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Culture Collision 2 

Event previews fall art offerings

Culture Collision 2

6 p.m.-10 p.m. Wed., Sept. 1

New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, Collins C. Diboll Circle, 658-4100;

Free admission

click to enlarge The inaugural Culture Collision drew a large crowd to NOMA. - PHOTO BY JEFF STROUT

Sometimes the penalty for throwing a good party is not getting to enjoy it. After helping to organize the first Culture Collision at the New Orleans Museum of Art last year, Jim Mulvihill, former public relations officer for the museum, barely had time to catch his breath at the event.

  "I spent the whole time running down to the Shell station to get bags of ice," he says. "But that's not a bad problem to have."

  The simple plan was to invite area arts organizations to set up tables at an after work happy hour event at NOMA. Each group notified its members and subscribers there would be music, cash bars and an opportunity to preview upcoming fall shows and events. As it turned out, an estimated 1,300 people attended, and NOMA staff had a hard time getting them to leave.

  "We sold a lot of tickets," says Janet Wilson of the New Orleans Opera Association. "Half of them to students. That was kind of a surprise."

  This year, the organizers are ready for a bigger event. Culture Collision 2 will expand to all three floors of the museum with live music by the Courtyard Kings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, and then the party will move outside to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden where DJ Matty will spin records until 10 p.m. Several area restaurants will offer light fare in the museum and the garden.

  There will be more than 30 organizations including museums (Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Contemporary Arts Center, Louisiana State Museum, National World War II Museum, etc.), theaters (Southern Rep, Le Petit Theatre, Jefferson Performing Arts Center, etc.), performing arts groups (Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, New Orleans Ballet Association, etc.) radio stations (WWNO, WYES), the New Orleans Film Society, the New Orleans Photo Alliance, the Louisiana Division of Arts and Culture and others. Many will have special offers and giveaways.

  Last year's event came out of informal meetings between Mulvihill and representatives from the opera and ballet associations, the philharmonic and Southern Rep. They were exploring ways to cooperate and reach out to each other's members. When they reached out to more arts groups, Paul Maassen from WWNO suggested they throw a party, Mulvihill says. They lifted the name Culture Collision from a Houston event and decided to use NOMA's space.

  Besides galas and fundraisers, parties in art spaces are not new in the city. In the Warehouse District, White Linen Night draws large crowds despite the August heat and limited gallery space. But especially since Hurricane Katrina, museum events have helped organizations reconnect with audiences and patrons. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art's Ogden After Hours series has become a weekly institution since the museum reopened.

  Also since Katrina, art events have become a greater part of NOMA's programming. The museum stayed open for 24 hours just before the closing of its George Rodrigue retrospective. Since Miranda Lash, who is married to Mulvihill, became NOMA's first curator of modern and contemporary art, the museum has hosted several large events, including a punk rock show for the opening of Skylar Fein's Youth Manifesto expo.

  "I consider events separate from curating," Lash says. "But events are a good way to celebrate a show."


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