Columns » Blake Pontchartrain: New Orleans Trivia

Blakeview: Isaac Delgado

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A recent visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art reminded me that some readers may not know the man whose donation helped establish the museum and whose name is still visible at the front of the building: Isaac Delgado. Born in Jamaica in 1839, Delgado came to New Orleans when he was a teenager. Working with an uncle, he made his fortune in the sugar industry. Though by most accounts he was not an art lover, Delgado saw the value of the city having an art museum and donated $150,000 (about $3.6 million in today's money) for it. "My desire is to give to the citizens of New Orleans a fireproof building where works of art may be collected through gifts or loans and where exhibitions can be held," he wrote in 1910. The building opened in 1911; Delgado died the next year. In 1971, the museum added two new wings and an auditorium and changed its name to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Delgado's fortune also helped establish the nearby Delgado Community College, which opened in 1921.

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