Prospect New Orleans was conceived in the tradition of the great international exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale and the Bienal de São Paulo, to showcase new artistic practices from around the world in settings that are both historic and culturally exceptional, and contribute to the cultural economy of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf region.
The idea to mount a large-scale international art biennial in New Orleans came to Dan Cameron, an internationally-recognized contemporary art curator, during his first post-Katrina visit to New Orleans. An annual visitor to Jazz Fest and acknowledged “Nolaphile”, in early-2006 Cameron was invited to New Orleans by friends in the art community to attend a public meeting about the role of art and artists in the rebuilding of the city. As a veteran curator of international biennials in Taipei and Istanbul, Cameron had witnessed first-hand the social and financial benefits that biennial exhibitions yield for their host cities, and was keenly aware of the fact that the U.S. does not have an international contemporary art biennial on the scale of major cities in Europe, Asia, and South America. Given the potential benefits and opportunities, Cameron decided that post-Katrina New Orleans was an ideal time and place to launch such a venture and in 2007, with seed money from the philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis, Prospect New Orleans was born.