The Helis Foundation is a Louisiana private foundation, established and funded by the William Helis Family in 1955.
The Helis Foundation’s resources and objectives are divided into two areas: the general fund, and the Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin Art Funds.
The general fund focuses on community needs primarily within the Metropolitan New Orleans area by granting funds to numerous local nonprofit organizations.
The Art Funds were established by bequests from Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin and were funded exclusively by Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Malvin’s personal and private resources upon their deaths. The Art Funds make grants to sustain operations, to provide free admission to, and to acquire significant art works on behalf of institutions within the Metropolitan New Orleans area. The Art Funds also underwrite major initiatives and special projects, such as Prospect.3’s Basquiat and the Bayou presented by The Helis Foundation, the installation of Lynda Benglis’ The Wave of the World in New Orleans City Park, The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden, Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection presented by The Helis Foundation organized by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art, and The Historic New Orleans Collection’s Tricentennial Exhibition, Art of the City: Post Modern to Post Katrina. The Helis Foundation awarded a grant to Xavier University of Louisiana to develop a new degree program leading to a Master’s in Curatorial Practice and Exhibition Management. At a time when museums and galleries are examining the ways they present history and culture, this grant will fund the development of a new degree program designed to increase diversity in the field of curatorial practices and museums.
The Helis Foundation also launched the first large-scale mural exhibit: Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, a collection of five murals in Downtown New Orleans in partnership with Arts New Orleans and unveiled the first Southern U.S. commission by internationally acclaimed artist Fujiko Nakaya at the Louisiana Children’s Museum campus in New Orleans City Park.
More recently, The Helis Foundation presented Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires at the Contemporary Arts Center and Melvin Edwards: Crossroads at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The Helis Foundation has played a key role in the opening of The Helis Foundation John T. Scott Center with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the publication of Enrique Alférez: Sculptor by Katie Bowler Young, and its continuing exhibition of public sculpture along Poydras Street in Downtown New Orleans through the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation.