NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The Historic New Orleans Collection will reopen the interior galleries of its Tricentennial Wing, located at 520 Royal Street, Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 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 are open Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Details about each exhibition are available below. In addition to the new gallery experiences, THNOC’s museum shop, The Shop at The Collection, will also resume in-store shopping Tuesday, September 1, 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.
New safety measures
“The safety of our staff and visitors is paramount,” said THNOC President and CEO Daniel Hammer. “As I stated back in March, closing our galleries 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 conditions in the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana, as well as within our own facilities, would promote the safety of both visitors and employees.” Hammer listed the following measures among the steps THNOC has implemented since the shutdown:
- Limited capacity in all indoor and outdoor facilities to less than 50% will allow adequate room for social distancing.
- Masks are required to be worn by all staff and visitors on THNOC premises.
- Timed ticketing, available on the hour and half-hour, will stagger visitors as they arrive; guests may also order their tickets online in advance.
- Touchless hand-sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the properties.
- Touchscreens and interactive components have been removed or deactivated.
- Plexiglass screens have been installed to reduce the risk of transmission between staff and visitors.
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.
With more than 100 images plus additional artifacts from the region, the exhibition explores 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. The scenes Baz and Traub preserved, never before gathered in a comprehensive exhibition or published together, comprise a relic of a time and place integral to the Louisiana story.
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 the bathroom of their temporary Acadiana bureau, a Breaux Bridge apartment—offering 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 worked to capture and share 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 collection to showcase the many views and experiences that have inspired artists through the years.
From the bustle of the French Market to the jazzmen of Preservation Hall, these artworks explore the streets, buildings, and people of the French Quarter through time and a variety of techniques. 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 Exhibition. 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 wall of the space 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.
About The Shop at The Collection
520 Royal Street | www.hnoc.org/shop
Specializing in merchandise influenced by the history and culture of Louisiana—including the work of numerous local artists—The Shop at The Collection will, like the museum galleries, reopen to the public Tuesday, September 1. And, like the museum galleries, the boutique will require all staff and patrons to wear masks and will implement several measures to maximize social distancing and reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus.
Although its online store has been open for the last several weeks, the museum shop is eager to return to in-person shopping, welcoming locals and tourists alike. The shop carries exclusive merchandise featuring images from the museum’s holdings and merchandise from more than 25 local and regional artists.