NOMA holds a collection of almost 40,000 objects, from ancient to modern. The collection is noted for strength in French and American art, photography, glass, African and Japanese works.

Paintings, works on paper, and decorative arts survey the development of Western Civilization from the pre-Christian era to today. Reflecting the rich local history, NOMA has owns a comprehensive collection of African and French art; among French treasures are works by Degas, who visited New Orleans in the 1870s and painted nearby. Holdings by masters of the School of Paris include Picasso, Braque, Dufy and Miro.

The Arts of the Americas collection includes objects from pre-Columbian through Spanish Colonial, including Mayan items,  and artwork from Cuzco, Peru. Notable is the suite of American period rooms featuring 18th- and 19th-century furniture and decorative arts.

A  5-acre Sculpture Garden holds more than 60 sculptures situated in a mature landscape of 200-year-old live oaks, pines, and magnolias.