Mardis Gras celebrations in New Orleans may be even more festive than usual this year as the city celebrates its 300th birthday. It's thus an appropriate time to be celebrating a highly regarded Swede’s influence in New Orleans: Artist Bror Anders Wikstrom made a name for himself as a prominent artist who for more than 40 years took charge of creating the floats and decorations during the Golden Age of Carnival.

Born in Sweden in 1854, Wikstrom initially pursued a maritime career before becoming an artist. He initially immigrated to Florida but moved to New Orleans in 1883, and it wasn't long before Wikstrom was elevating the extravaganza of Mardi Gras through his fantastical designs for early krewes; he served as the chief designer behind 20 floats and hundreds of costumes. He also founded the New Orleans Artists Association in 1885, one of the civic groups that sparked the Delgado Museum of Art (NOMA) in 1910, and was a popular landscape and marine painter and sculptor.


An exhibit of Wikstrom's work, The Artistry of Carnival | Bror Anders Wikstrom: Bringing Fantasy to Carnival, is on view now until April 1. The exhibition showcases the Swedish artist’s watercolor sketches for the elaborate floats and costumes that allowed otherworldly stories to come to life on the streets of New Orleans. Accompanying photographs show how the creations looked rolling through the streets on Mardi Gras day. New Orleans Museum of Art, 504.658.4100 /