An exhibition at the Louisiana State Museum telling the history of the fire fighting systems. Sponsored by The Junior League of New Orleans and the Delgado Art Museum.
The Junior League of New Orleans has a long and storied history of supporting art and educational programs as part of its commitment to the New Orleans community. An early adaptation of this part of our mission was formalized in 1947 with the initiation of the JLNO’s partnership with the Delgado Museum, which is now known as the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). This dedication to history and education was also highlighted in 1956 with JLNO’s support of the Louisiana State Museum.
In the fall of 1947, the Delgado Museum project was launched. The project was designed to provide Louisiana school children a visual understanding of their cultural inheritance. The program was modeled after a similar effort taken on by the Kansas City Junior League and was headed by Mrs. Clarke Salmon, III who was a recent transfer from Kansas City to New Orleans.
Strained finances and a vacant Director position at the museum presented many challenges as JLNO launched its ambitious new program. Responsibilities for the League members included fundraising, staffing, curriculum development, organizing transportation for students and designing and constructing the displays. Tulane architectural students were recruited to build props and plan lighting for the new exhibit.
Junior League members volunteered to give demonstrations and arrange transportation. Donations from across the state were solicited by JLNO members, including original Audubon prints, antique furniture, and Indian and Acadian crafts.
In December of 1947 Mrs. Salmon wrote in a lovely thank you letter to an art lender, “We want you to know that we are indeed very grateful to you for the loan of your several Audubon prints. Your generosity and cooperation contributed a great deal to the success of our museum project.”
The same year, the Junior League of New Orleans received a thank you in return from the Orleans Parish School Board: “You are to be highly commended on your excellent leadership in planning and presenting the Louisiana Exhibition at the Delgado Art Museum during November and part of December 1947. Every phase of this exhibit indicated the amount of thought, time and energy devoted to this activity by many members of the Junior League, who worked so cooperatively and harmoniously.”
The initiation and success of this early Junior League project is a testament to the Junior League model of organizing around community need and available volunteer time and talent. It is a timeless model that is truly effective. The project also shows the impact that can come from one motivated member.
In the years to follow, Junior League members continued to plan and execute the art show and acted as docents, presenting two exhibits annually for school children. In April 1959, the League provided $10,000 for two years to support the salary of a Curator of Education at Delgado Museum. In November 1964, the League donated $5,000 to purchase Edgar Degas’s “Portrait of Estelle Musson” by the Delgado Museum, which is still part of NOMA’s permanent collection.
JLNO continued to directly support the Delgado Museum as volunteer docents and fundraisers until 1970 when the responsibility of program execution was adopted by the museum’s Women’s Volunteer Committee. Also in 1970, the League voted to donate $10,000 to the Museum for three consecutive years. This last iteration of the partnership included two administrative volunteers for planning programs, and in the second and third years twenty volunteers to carry out newly planned visual arts projects.
In 1956, the Junior League of New Orleans extended its efforts to preserve the history of our community through a partnership with the Louisiana State Museum by acting as volunteer docents and assisting with cataloguing inventory. In March 1966, the League voted to donate $1,000 to establish the Junior League Presbytere Guides in cooperation with Friends of the Cabildo and the Louisiana State Museum. This guided tour program for school children throughout the state of Louisiana was held in the Presbytere until the Cabildo renovation was completed in 1971. In May 1971, the guide program was officially turned over for management by the Friends of the Cabildo, which continues to operate guided tours to this day.
The impact made by JLNO in years past has provided both generational benefits and ongoing community relevance. As a result of these early League efforts, the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana now has an impressive home for the visual arts that continues to inspire and educate.