Blinged-out gators, a giant crawfish boil and a virtual costume closet — these are just a few of the creative exhibits guests can explore when JAMNOLA opens in the Marigny on Aug. 1.
Touted as New Orleans’ first experiential pop-up, JAMNOLA — an acronym for Joy, Art, Music New Orleans — is an interactive art attraction exploring the culture that makes the Crescent City special.
The immersive 5,400-square-foot exhibit features 12 rooms for guests to explore, in what’s sure to flood social media timelines as a heavily Instagrammed experience. Most rooms feature photo opportunities, a concept similar to the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco.
The passion project was founded by Bywater residents Jonny Liss and Chad Smith in creative partnership with Where Y’Art, a New Orleans-based artist collective that served as curator, artistic director and creative partner of the experience. Local legend George Porter, Jr. curated the music.
“JAMNOLA has been more than a decade in the making. Since I first stepped foot in New Orleans 28 years ago, I knew this city was special,” Liss said. “I wanted to create a tribute to the city’s people and invest in the culture. Teaming with Where Y’Art is what made it come together. JAMNOLA is a love letter to New Orleans—her joy, her beauty and grit, her resilience. We can’t wait to share it with tourists and especially locals. The experience is really indescribable.”
More than 20 artists and cultural contributors helped put their signature stamp on this love letter to New Orleans. A couple of notable artists sprinkling New Orleans flavor on works inside the exhibit are street artist Hugo Gyrl and visual artist Courtney “Ceaux Young” Buckley, who gained national attention after his Hollygrove mural of Lil Wayne appeared in one of Drake’s music videos.
Hugo Gyrl has contributed selfie-ready, statement strong arms in an installation titled “Yeah You Write,” while Ceaux Young’s work appears in a collection of murals, including a second-line scene, called “What’s Your Jam?”
Artists began conception ideas for the project this year, but organizers reveal the exhibits were redesigned to limit contact due to the pandemic to meet new health and safety requirements.
“The lead artists we selected—their out-of-the-box thinking and innovation will absolutely blow you away. They’ve been working tirelessly, under a tight deadline to imagine each space into an experience that will leave you…well, I’ll let you come and find out,” said Catherine Todd, co-founder and creative director of Where Y’Art.
When JAMNOLA opens, the exhibit will implement strict safety measures including temperature checks for guests, mandatory masks and sanitization before and throughout the experience. Guests must also purchase timed tickets in advance to manage occupancy and assist with contact tracing.
In addition, admission will initially be limited to semi-private and private tours of no more than 6 people in a party to allow for necessary social distancing and cleanings between every group.
“We’re thrilled JAMNOLA is finally opening, especially after the difficult spring and summer we’ve had in the city due to the public health crisis. This is a very exciting and totally different kind of attraction,” said Stephen Perry, President & CEO of New Orleans & Co. “JAMNOLA is a first-of-its-kind, immersive experience that promises to satisfy the needs and interests of visitors to New Orleans and provides an opportunity to explore an art pop-up and celebrate New Orleans’ ageless unique music, art and culture.”
Tickets for tours are available online for $29 with special discounts to students, military and Orleans Parish residents on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Starting Aug. 1, JAMNOLA’s hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday-Monday and Wednesday -Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Saturday. JAMNOLA is closed on Tuesdays.
JAMNOLA is located at 2832 Royal Street in New Orleans, next to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).
Organizers say a percentage of JAMNOLA’s proceeds will be donated back to New Orleans charity partners Trombone Shorty Foundation and Feed the Second Line.