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Upcoming Events

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“Joseph and the…

Apr 18 - 19, 2015
This family musical classic from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber chronicles… more

2015 Earth Day…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
The 2015 Earth Day Festival will be hosting Louisiana's first Solar Derby. The… more

Adler’s Jewelry Tea…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
In an afternoon of elegant indulgence, an exclusive trunk show of stunning,… more

Backbeat Jazzfest…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come join us and listen to live music by Free Agents Brass Band. more

Big Chief Monk…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come join us for Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles plus Special… more

Big Easy Rollergirls…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come see your Big Easy Rollergirls Allstars take on the Detroit Derby Girls… more

Critter Cinema,…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Join us for  Critter Cinema, sponsored by the Louisiana SPCA.  Great… more

Edgar Degas: The…

Apr 18 - May 24, 2015
Featuring drawings, prints, sculpture, and photographs, all from a single… more

EN MAS’: Carnival and…

Apr 18 - Jun 7, 2015
Curated by Claire Tancons, Krista Thompson, EN MAS': Carnival and Performance… more

ETCHYNPÜFE Group Show…

Apr 18 - May 31, 2015
The Foundation Gallery is excited to host ETCHYNPÜFE, a group show… more

FOUR VOICES at the…

Apr 18 - May 24, 2015
The Garden District Gallery is pleased to present FOUR VOICES featuring… more

Glass Art Exhibit…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
The Tulane/Newcomb College Glass Art exhibition at Longue Vue incorporates a… more

Jim Roche: Cultural…

Apr 18 - Jul 12, 2015
Born in 1943, Jim Roche received a BA from Florida State University (1961)… more

JPAS Presents The…

Apr 18 - 19, 2015
For decades, renowned advice columnist Ann Landers answered countless letters… more

Louisiana Music…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come and listen to music by Jon Roniger. more

Louisiana Music…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come and listen to music by Alexander Scott. more

Louisiana Music…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come and listen to music by Caesar Brothers. more

Louisiana Music…

Apr 18 - 18, 2015
Come and listen to music by Tank & the Bangas. more

M.S. Rau Antiques…

Apr 18 - May 4, 2015
Long established and leading art, antiques and jewelry specialist M.S. Rau… more

Mark Steinmetz: South

Apr 18 - May 10, 2015
Mark Steinmetz lives and works in Athens, Georgia. His work transcends the… more

“Joseph and the…

Apr 18 - 19, 2015
This family musical classic from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber chronicles… more

Seeking the Unknown: Natural History Observations in Louisiana, 1698–1840 at the Historic New Orleans Collection

The exhibition Seeking the Unknown: Natural History Observations in Louisiana, 1698-1840 presents objects that provide a broad historical background for the study of Louisiana's natural history-from taxidermied animals, specimens in jars, and pressed plants to lavishly illustrated folios.

The Historic New Orleans Collection relives the romance and mystery of Louisiana's early scientific expeditions with its latest exhibition, Seeking the Unknown: Natural History Observations in Louisiana, 1698-1840. On view through June 2, at 533 Royal St., the free exhibition is available to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Louisiana's lush and distinctive environment has long played into the state's identity, evidenced by monikers like "the Sportsman's Paradise," "the Bayou State" and "the Pelican state." Records from some of the first explorers prove that the area's flora, fauna and native people were compelling centuries ago. The new exhibition draws on reports from early European explorers, their accounts kicking off a flurry of interest in the New World's environment that lasted well into the 19th century. Scientific curiosity-in addition to economic potential and romantic notions-motivated the brave men and women who tackled the strange terrain and its sometimes harsh climate.

"The curious nature of many of the naturalists and explorers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries is something that never goes out of fashion. Regardless of the era or the field, curiosity drives discovery," said John H. Lawrence, director of museum programs at THNOC and exhibition co-curator. "This exhibition will give visitors a better understanding of what early explorers and scientists saw in Louisiana's forests, swamps, rivers and shores."

Lawrence and fellow co-curator Gilles-Antoine Langlois of the National School of Architecture at Versailles, University Paris-Est Créteil, chose objects that provide a broad historical background for early observations of the Louisiana landscape. The display comprises selections from THNOC's holdings plus loaned items from several institutions in the state and four French archives. Together, these pieces spotlight particular individuals whose work was influential in recording the natural history of Louisiana.

"With rare exception, the often groundbreaking work of these men was, during their lifetime, known to a relatively small audience," Langlois wrote in his essay for the exhibition catalogue. "They were unacknowledged collectors of scientific treasures, operating in the shadows, suffering fevers and other unimaginable hardships, rarely receiving widespread recognition or other acclaim. This exhibition finally brings some of their previously invisible work to light."

Items on display include centuries-old plant and animal specimens-including a bobcat, a cougar and a Mississippi map turtle-collected by various explorers and scientists. The exhibition even features several reptile specimens in jars that were collected in the 1830s. Detailed drawings, watercolors and illustrated folios-including several by John James Audubon-are also part of the display.

"It's pretty amazing to see examples of plants and animals that were collected in Louisiana hundreds of years ago," Lawrence said. "Many of them seem so commonplace to us today-a brown pelican, an alligator gar, Spanish moss-but just imagine seeing something like that for the first time. That's what this exhibition is about."

This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the 18th annual Williams Research Center Symposium Seeking the Unknown: Perspectives on Louisiana's Natural History.