FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lauren Noel, The Historic New Orleans Collection
Voelker, Gambel Communications
New exhibition showcasing THNOC's recent acquisitions opens today
New additions to holdings include photographs, jazz records, portraits, letters and journals
July 24, 2012 | New Orleans, LA - The Historic New Orleans Collection showcases a selection of its most recent acquisitions in its exhibition, "Something Old, Something New: Collecting in the 21st Century," which opens today. The display illustrates the growth of the institution's holdings since the year 2000. Admission is free and the gallery, located at 533 Royal St., is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Chosen by a team of staff curators and historians, the exhibition reflects The Collection's mission to preserve Louisiana's history and culture. The institution protects historical items from the ravages of time and weather for discovery by future generations. The diversity of the items on display is not only representative of institution's holdings, but also the state's rich past.
Artifacts arrive in the holdings by a variety of means, but most acquisitions are donated or purchased with donor-established funds. One item in "Something Old, Something New," donated by New Orleans firefighter-and recent winner of Food Network's "Chopped" competition-Mike Gowland, was almost left behind when his family evacuated their Lakeview home before Hurricane Katrina. Gowland's grandfather, Happy Gowland, was an early 20th-century vaudeville comedian who left his family a collection of scrapbooks documenting his time touring and performing around the region.
"My wife was packing up to evacuate, and at the last minute remembered to grab the scrapbooks," said Gowland. "The thought of all that history being lost..."
After the younger Gowland came to know The Collection through its Oral Histories Project, an initiative to document the stories of Katrina's first responders, he decided the scrapbooks would be better protected at the museum.
"I knew that [The Collection] would be better able to preserve-and exhibit-my grandfather's legacy," said Gowland.
Happy's scrapbooks include photographs of his costumes and the troupe he performed with, notes on the places he stayed and what the people were like, lyrics for his original slapstick comedy songs and even expense reports.
"New Orleans was very important in vaudeville circuits, but there isn't a lot of documentation of it," said senior curator Mark Cave. "The scrapbooks represent a lifestyle that is often neglected in museum collections. They didn't make a lot of money nor were they shaping world events, they were simply doing something interesting and making a living. These perspectives are traditionally lost over the course of time."
The exhibition also features one of the most captivating pieces The Collection has recently acquired-a circa 1840 portrait, "Creole in a Red Headdress" by Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans. The portrait defies ethnic, race and even gender distinctions, and its acquisition was made possible by the Diana Helis Henry Fund of The Helis Foundation.
"I was stunned when I first saw the painting in Paris," said Priscilla Lawrence, executive director at The Collection. "It had everything-it was beautiful, yet mysterious; the artist lived and painted both in Paris and New Orleans; and the subject represents so many facets of Louisiana's heritage."
"Something Old, Something New" includes photographs, metalwork, pottery, letters, journals and early copies of jazz records and sheet music. It will be on view through February 8, 2013. For more information, visit www.hnoc.org or call (504) 523-4662.
Editor's Note: Photos are available upon request. Contact Anne Robichaux at email@example.com or (504) 598-7137 for digital images.
About The Collection
Founded in 1966, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center and publisher dedicated to the preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, The Collection offers guided tours, free rotating exhibitions, a research facility and a museum shop. For more information, visit www.hnoc.org or call (504) 523-4662.