Exhibit Opens Feb 27 About New Orleans Many Early Cultures
The many cultures that made New Orleans one of the nation’s most diverse cities are the focus of an exhibit opening Feb. 27. The Historic New Orleans Collection is marking the city’s tricentennial with the exhibit.
Native Americans had used the area for a long time before the French founded “La Nouvelle-Orleans” in 1718.
A majority of the earliest non-indigenous inhabitants, including French and Canadian soldiers, French convicts and enslaved Africans, didn’t want to be there, said historian and exhibit curator Erin Greenwald.
“This exhibition will offer visitors an opportunity to reflect on the complicated and often messy nature of New Orleans’s birth and early years,” she said in a news release.
The museum is using its own collection and rare materials from institutions across Europe and North America in a display titled “New Orleans, the Founding Era.” The exhibit opens Feb. 27.
It is also publishing a catalog in French and English for the exhibit, which runs through May 27. The catalog will feature essays about the different peoples in precolonial New Orleans and the surrounding areas, as well as the forces driving the settlement’s growth.
The exhibit will include a number of digital interactives: a map of archaeological digs at a variety of French Quarter sites, a quiz game about supplies needed for a new home in the settlement, a 1731 inventory of enslaved Africans and African-descended people living on a West Bank plantation and short films featuring narrated recordings of the writings of early New Orleanians.
Related programs include an evening of 18th-century French harpsichord music, featuring pieces mentioned by an early resident of New Orleans in his papers, and a number of lectures. The first lecture will discuss discoveries from recent digs in the French Quarter. Greenwald will speak about the role Africans played in the city’s early cultural, economic and physical development.
Other speakers will discuss the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, traditional African-American herbal remedies, and early French mapping of Louisiana.