While a major focus of the Living Museum is to highlight oral histories of local residents, the Museum will also showcase archival research in order to tell the story of the Lower Ninth Ward.
One of our favorite things about opening the Living Museum has been the opportunity to dig through endless archives and photo collections throughout New Orleans. Staff members and volunteers have been researching and solidifying exhibit content for over two years now, finding as much historical information and photography pertaining to the history of the Lower Ninth Ward as possible.
Throughout this process, the queen bee of local archives has been none other than the Historic New Orleans Collection. The HNOC is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. From the beginning, they have been incredibly helpful, allowing us to find and request photos pertaining to each of the Living Museum exhibits.
Recently, Stephanie and I had the pleasure of stopping by the Williams Research Center in order to finalize the formal photo request form and have it submitted. We met with Jennifer Navarre, the HNOC Reference Associate who is handling all requests pertaining to the Living Museum. On top of helping us with the official paperwork, she was able to locate an additional map that we had been looking for (a map from 1858, showing all of the New Orleans plantations by name). We’re really excited to go back to the Research Center in the next couple of weeks in order to comb through the archives once more and look for possible last minute contributions to the exhibits.
Before heading out Stephanie and I decided to check out the HNOC Museum as well, about a block away. Like the Research Center, the HNOC Museum is absolutely beautiful and very well organized. We learned about New Orleans history beginning in the 1700’s, and made sure to try (often unsuccessfully) to locate the Lower Ninth Ward on every map we passed. On the way out we ended up chatting with a very knowledgeable docent who answered some of our burning questions about old maps and artifacts. In addition to learning about the rich and often dark history of New Orleans, we were able to see different methods for hanging and mounting exhibits professionally.
All in all it was a really educational and eye opening visit to the HNOC! For those in the area we highly recommend visiting the museum (free admission!), and for anyone researching the history of New Orleans, make sure to stop by the Williams Research Center (ask for Jennifer! She’s very helpful).
A big thanks to all of the people at the HNOC who have helped us get this museum up and running!