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Upcoming Events

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"Prospect.3: Notes…

Nov 26, 2014 - Jan 25, 2015
Prospect New Orleans, the International Contemporary Art Biennial,  will… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Nov 26, 2014 - Mar 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Irvin Mayfield's Jazz…

Nov 26 - 26, 2014
Join us at The Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel for… more

Pub Quiz

Nov 26 - 26, 2014
Test your knowledge of an array of topics, including World War II, at the… more

THE GUANTÁNAMO PUBLIC…

Nov 26 - 26, 2014
This traveling exhibit examines the history of the U.S. naval base in… more

The Victory Belles…

Nov 26, 2014 - Jun 24, 2015
Noted for their close harmonies and synchronized dance steps, the Andrews… more

The Victory Belles…

Nov 26 - Dec 28, 2014
Our popular, charming vocal trio is in a holiday mood! Come jingle all the way… more

ThinkerKids Holiday…

Nov 26 - 26, 2014
Come explore science, technology, art and math with us at ThinkerKids Holiday… more

White Glove Wednesdays

Nov 26 - 26, 2014
It's one thing to read on an exhibit label that an infantryman's pack in World… more

The Hotel Modern…

Nov 27 - 27, 2014
Gather for brunch at Tivoli & Lee this Thanksgiving Day! Executive Chef… more

Turkey Day Race 5…

Nov 27 - 27, 2014

"The Victory Belles…

Nov 28 - 28, 2014
Our popular, charming vocal trio is in a holiday mood! Come jingle all the way… more

2014 Battle of the…

Nov 28 - 28, 2014
The Bayou Classic is more than a football game. This annual event is one of the… more

An Evening of…

Nov 28 - 28, 2014
Join us for an evening of elegance with Lalah Hathaway, Najee, and Kindred The… more

Celebration in the…

Nov 28, 2014 - Jan 03, 2015
City Park's annual holiday lighting exhibit and festival returns with one of… more

ThinkerKids Holiday…

Nov 28 - 28, 2014
Come explore science, technology, art and math with us at ThinkerKids Holiday… more

"The Victory Belles…

Nov 29 - 29, 2014
Our popular, charming vocal trio is in a holiday mood! Come jingle all the way… more

Bayou Classic

Nov 29 - 29, 2014
The 41st Annual Bayou Classic will take place in the Dome on Saturday, November… more

"The Victory Belles…

Nov 30 - 30, 2014
Our popular, charming vocal trio is in a holiday mood! Come jingle all the way… more

"The Victory Belles…

Nov 30 - 30, 2014
Our popular, charming vocal trio is in a holiday mood! Come jingle all the way… more

"Prospect.3: Notes…

Nov 26, 2014 - Jan 25, 2015
Prospect New Orleans, the International Contemporary Art Biennial,  will… 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.