Thirty one years ago, Roger Houston Ogden, a Louisiana State University student, persuaded his father to join him in presenting a painting to his mother as a birthday gift. The Louisiana landscape painting, by the early 20th century tonalist Alexander Drysdale was the first work of art purchased by Ogden.
Subsequently, father and son's habit of these special occasion gifts, encouraged the young Ogden to develop his interest in Louisiana artists - those who were born in or who worked in the state.
This early period was the first stage in the development of the collection and the first step in the creation of one of the outstanding art collections in America.
By the mid-1980s, Ogden had collected a full range of paintings that recounted the history and changing aesthetics of painting in Louisiana which included 19th century portraits by Jacques Amans, landscapes by William Henry Buck, Richard Clague, Clarence Millet, and others. Master works such as Mother Louisiana, an allegorical portrait of the state of Louisiana by Italian-born artist Dominico Canova, a 19th century resident of New Orleans were included.
The collection is not antiquarian in nature, however. In delving into works and artists of the 20th century, Ogden discovered Southern artists who often sought training in Northeastern or European art schools. Upon returning to the South, they soon developed unique styles based on the seminal movements of their day. Also by the mid-1980s, Ogden made a decision to broaden his collection to take in the full scope of visual arts in the South by expanding his collection to include artists from states outside of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region. The range of his collections grew to include painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper, self-taught art, ceramics and mixed media.
By the early 1990s, Roger Ogden's collection was recognized by art historians and collectors as an outstanding collection of Southern Art. "With that recognition," Ogden explains, "I realized that the collection could not remain the responsibility of one individual or family, but that it should belong to the public, and that it was incumbent on me to make plans for its placement as a whole." Thanks to his vision and his generous contribution to the University of New Orleans Foundation, Roger Ogden's collection of 1200 works by some 400 artists was moved to a new home, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at Stephen Goldring Hall (located at 925 Camp St) on August 23, 2003.