NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Following its precautionary closure for Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura, The Historic New Orleans Collection has adjusted the schedule for reopening its first wave of interior galleries by one week. Instead of reopening Tuesday, September 1, THNOC’s Tricentennial Wing, located at 520 Royal St., will now reopen Tuesday, Sept. 8, still with three new installations: the photography exhibition “Cajun Document: Acadiana, 1973–74”; the fine art exhibition “French Quarter Life: People and Places of the Vieux Carré”; and a modern, immersive experience titled “Land of Dreams” by local artist Susan Gisleson.
Admission is free, and the galleries will be available Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. In addition to the new gallery experiences, THNOC’s museum shop, The Shop at The Collection, will also resume in-store shopping, following the same hours and safety protocols as the museum galleries.
The three new exhibitions and the museum shop join the interpretive outdoor courtyard displays, the free walking tour app, and the museum café, Café Cour, all of which reopened in mid-June. THNOC’s public research center also reopened in June, although appointments are required in advance.
New safety measures
“The safety of our staff and visitors is paramount,” said THNOC President and CEO Daniel Hammer. “Closing our galleries in March was part of our civic responsibility to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We’ve delayed reopening the interior spaces until we could be confident that the conditions of our facilities as well as the city and state were suitable for both our visitors and our employees.”
Hammer listed the following measures among the steps THNOC has implemented since the shutdown:
- Maximum occupancy in all areas has been reduced to less than 50% of room capacity, allowing ample room for social distancing.
- Masks are required for all staff and visitors on THNOC premises. Anyone without a mask will be provided one.
- Timed ticketing, available on the hour and half-hour, will stagger visitors as they arrive. Guests are encouraged to order their tickets online in advance.
- Touchless hand-sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the properties.
- Touchscreens and interactive devices have been removed or deactivated.
- Plexiglass screens have been installed in areas where staff and visitors interact.
A list of FAQs on THNOC’s website addresses additional components of the new visitor experience.
About Cajun Document: Acadiana, 1973-74
THNOC’s Tricentennial Wing, third-floor galleries | www.hnoc.org/cajundocument
A new exhibition and book featuring images by acclaimed photographers Douglas Baz and Charles H. Traub, “Cajun Document: Acadiana, 1973–74,” visits Louisiana towns from Welsh to Erath, Mamou to Golden Meadow, capturing everyday life in living rooms and dance halls, on fishing boats, and at rural Mardi Gras festivities, as well as a sweeping view of the region’s industries and geography.
The pair of photographers first encountered the Acadian community on a winter road trip in 1973, early in their careers. Baz and Traub were so captivated with the people, culture, and lifestyles that they plotted a longer stay, eventually spending six months in the area. Now, nearly 50 years after the images were created, the scenes Baz and Traub preserved have been gathered for the first time in a comprehensive exhibition and publication.
The exhibition includes more than 100 images plus additional artifacts from the region. Together, the images comprise a relic of a time and place integral to the Louisiana story, capturing the Acadian community on the brink of national exposure. Chef Paul Prudhomme’s ascendance to culinary celebrity, the larger world’s discovery of Cajun and zydeco music, and oil-and-gas booms and busts were yet to come.
An interactive display in the galleries provides viewers an opportunity to delve into the thousands of exposures on the photographers’ contact sheets—produced from negatives developed in bathroom of their temporary Acadiana bureau, a Breaux Bridge apartment—and offers an intimate introduction to Cajun life of nearly a half-century ago. The companion hardcover book, which retails for $45, includes essays from both photographers as well as a foreword from exhibition curator and THNOC Director of Museum Programs John H. Lawrence. In addition to the in-gallery display, this exhibition can also be viewed online.
About “French Quarter Life: People and Places of the Vieux Carré”
THNOC’s Tricentennial Wing, mezzanine, second-floor gallery | www.hnoc.org/frenchquarterlife
For more than 150 years, artists from around the world have captured and shared their impressions of New Orleans’s most iconic and historic neighborhood, the French Quarter. This exhibition gathers 22 paintings from The Historic New Orleans Collection’s permanent holdings to showcase the many views and experiences that have inspired artists through the years. In addition to the in-gallery display, this exhibition can also be viewed online.
About “Land of Dreams” by Susan Gisleson
THNOC’s Tricentennial Wing, first-floor gallery | www.hnoc.org/landofdreams
New Orleans artist Susan Gisleson describes “Land of Dreams,” a new 1,500-square-foot multimedia art installation at The Historic New Orleans Collection, as “a love letter to a New Orleans summer.”
Framed on three walls by enlargements of vintage postcards of public parks, waterways, and amusement destinations—all pulled from the museum’s digital archive—the immersive work playfully invites visitors to experience pursuits enjoyed by generations of New Orleanians seeking relief and entertainment outdoors despite the city’s tropical climate.
With parasols made of fern leaves on the ceiling, giant water lilies on the floor, and oversized images on the walls, the viewer is surrounded by scenes of City Park, Audubon Park, Bayou St. John, Pontchartrain Beach, Lincoln Beach, and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. The landscape collage is populated by other images from THNOC’s catalog of holdings—photos of people of all ages and all walks of life at rest and play.
A fourth gallery wall contains photos and video displays from the 1959 Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo and the 1969 reopening of the Audubon Park swimming pool, a bittersweet landmark in the city’s civil rights history. Arrays of gumball machines (an homage to Royal Street’s vanished Pennyland Arcade) are filled terrarium-style with leisure-time objects such as baseballs, seashells, dice, and toy animals. A bed is filled with books (“because that’s typically where we have our dreams,” Gisleson says); and a table with seahorse-shaped legs holds a collection of antique electric fans.
Like the locations it celebrates, the installation is intended to be experienced as a place for contemplation, with comfortable seating, smartphone charging stations, and soothing views of the city’s favorite relaxation oases.