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Upcoming Events

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Entergy IMAX Theatre…

Jul 30 - Aug 21, 2014
Entergy IMAX Theatre and 3D Entertainment Distribution invite audiences on an… more

JPAS Summer Musical…

Jul 30 - Aug 3, 2014
  THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE JR., based on the zany musical that has taken… more

The Victory Belles –…

Jul 30 - 30, 2014
Salute the USA with the Victory Belles' newest red, white and blue celebration!… more

White Glove…

Jul 30 - 30, 2014
It's one thing to read on an exhibit label that an infantryman's pack in World… more

14th Annual Satchmo…

Jul 31 - Aug 3, 2014
Celebrate our native son, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, at this free… more

2014 New Orleans…

Jul 31 - Aug 3, 2014
Join us for the Historic New Orleans Collection's seventh annual New Orleans… more

Le Foret - Five…

Jul 31 - 31, 2014
Wine aficionados and foodies alike can enjoy sumptuous seasonal delights with… more

Louisiana Music…

Jul 31 - 31, 2014
Listen to Voo Davis perform! more

Open Mic Night at…

Jul 31 - Aug 28, 2014
This summer, Thursday nights at Hard Rock New Orleans are open to local… more

The Historic New…

Jul 31 - Aug 3, 2014
The Historic New Orleans Collection's seventh annual New Orleans Antiques… more

Workplace Wellness…

Jul 31 - 31, 2014
Pre-planning is a matter of taking the time to think about - and record - your… more

AN EVENING WITH …

Aug 1 - 1, 2014

COOLinary New…

Aug 1 - 31, 2014
It is going to be a delicious summer!  Throughout the whole month of… more

Mecha Con

Aug 1 - 3, 2014
MechaCon was conceived as a revolutionary Anime convention experience,… more

Sarah McLachlan at…

Aug 1 - 1, 2014

Satchmo Summer Fest

Aug 1 - 1, 2014
Come and enjoy live music with Leroy Jones & New Orleans Finest. more

The Saenger Theatre…

Aug 1 - 1, 2014
Join us for  multi-platinum singer and songwriter Sarah McLaughlin. She… more

The Victory Belles –…

Aug 1 - 1, 2014
Salute the USA with the Victory Belles' newest red, white and blue celebration!… more

20th Anniversary…

Aug 2 - 2, 2014
The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (CAC) announces the annual Whitney… more

Abita Springs Opry at…

Aug 2 - 30, 2014
Two bands - Three Hours - Five Saturdays First band plays approx 12 noon… more

Entergy IMAX Theatre…

Jul 30 - Aug 21, 2014
Entergy IMAX Theatre and 3D Entertainment Distribution invite audiences on an… 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.