Richard W. Norton struck it rich in the 1920s when he helped discover the Rodessa Oil Field of north Louisiana. It was thanks to this wealth that Norton’s wife and son amassed quite the collection of fine art. Norton’s wife and son founded the R.W. Norton Art Foundation in 1946. The foundation aims to support and promote the arts. It was with help from the foundation that the R.W. Norton Art Gallery officially opened in 1966.
The museum initially housed art that Mrs. Norton and Norton Jr. had collected. Over the years, the gallery’s collection has grown and expanded and so has the museum. The South Wing opened in 1990, and the North Wing followed in 2003.
The R.W. Norton Art Gallery houses several Smithsonian-quality works of art. The European collection includes a bust of Roman Emperor Septimius Severin, an Egyptian funerary mask, Renaissance-era tapestries, and paintings by artists such as Jacob van Ruisdael, Meindert Hobbema, Mary Cassatt, and Auguste Rodin.
The American collection includes works such as works from the Hudson River School, Western icons such as Frederic Remington and Charles Marion Russell, silver bowls created by Paul Revere, a copy of the George Washington portrait used on the one-dollar bill, and a gargantuan landscape of Mount Everest.
The Norton Art Gallery also hosts numerous traveling exhibitions. Past exhibits have included propaganda posters from World War I, select works of Freida Kahlo, and the history of communication.
The exterior of the museum includes a 40-acre botanical garden. You will find outdoor statues of wildlife such as boar, otters, bears, and pelicans. The garden is home to numerous plants including 100 native and hybrid varieties of azaleas. Other flowers found in the gardens include iris, ginger lily, coneflower, canna lily, and black-eyed Susan. There is also a smaller garden dedicated to desert plants. There are numerous small waterfalls and rivers throughout the garden which lead to a large pond. If you’re lucky, you might also encounter the flock of chickens who called the gardens home.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open from 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm Friday and Saturday, and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm on Sunday. It is closed on all federal holidays. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
The gardens are open 4:00 pm to Sunset on Monday - Wednesday, and Sunrise to Sunset on Thursday - Sunday.