Calling it a gift to the city for its 300th birthday next year, the New Orleans Museum of Art is launching a six-acre, $15 million expansion of the popular Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, museum officials announced Friday.

The expansion, expected to be completed by the winter of 2018, will include sites for more sculpture, as well as an outdoor amphitheatre and stage, pedestrian bridges and walkways, a new gallery, and an outdoor learning environment. There are plans to install more than 20 new sculptures as well.

The expansion will include an additional six acres in City Park – an area of land across Franklin D. Roosevelt Mall, bordered by Gulf Drive, Berky’s Circle, E. Alferez Drive, and Collins Diboll Circle, adjacent to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Artists rendering of Besthoff Sculpture Garden expansion.

A new gallery will also be located in the expanded sculpture garden, offering exhibition space for indoor sculpture and other works in NOMA’s collection that complement the garden’s installations.

The expansion project is being privately funded, the museum said. Money will also be used for increased programming, such as outdoor film screenings, theater productions, musical performances, events, tours, and citywide festivals.

The five-acre outdoor sculpture garden, which opened adjacent to NOMA in 2003, is home to 64 sculptures from artists around the world. Most of them were donated to NOMA by the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation. The Besthoffs, the former owners of K&B Drug Stores, are noted art collectors and lovers of sculpture.

Artists rendering of Besthoff Sculpture Garden expansion.

“This significant undertaking reinforces NOMA’s integral role in serving the diverse communities of New Orleans,” said a statement from Susan Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “Like the beloved current sculpture garden, the expanded sculpture garden and new gallery will be free and open to the public seven days a week.”