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Katrina + 5: Documenting Disaster

The exhibition Katrina + 5: Documenting Disaster is a reminder of the history made since August 29, 2005, and The Collection’s ongoing efforts to record it.

May 12–September 12, 2010
Williams Gallery, 533 Royal Street

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Lower Garden District Fire Scene
September 6, 2005; by Chris Mickal
courtesy of Chris Mickal

In the timeline of history, half a decade constitutes not even the blink of an eye, but for many residents of the Gulf Coast affected by Hurricane Katrina, the past five years have seemed like a lifetime. Yet time has moved on. Five years after the storm, recovery efforts have produced a mixed bag of results across our region.

The “history in the making” quality of Katrina’s landfall, the subsequent flooding of New Orleans, and five years of recovery and rebuilding efforts presented a dizzying array of documentation possibilities to an institution tasked with preserving our city’s history. Faced with the work of chronicling both unprecedented devastation and the city’s recovery, The Collection implemented two long-term institutional initiatives in early October 2005: an extensive oral history program focused on recording the experiences of first responders and a citywide photo documentary project intended to capture the scale of the chaos left in Katrina’s wake. Selections from these projects form the core of Katrina + 5. Other items on exhibit include historical maps and documents exploring the history of tidal flooding and storm surge in New Orleans over the course of the past two centuries and a multimedia station featuring an interactive timeline and Katrina on the Web +5. Slide shows from six of the oral histories featured in the exhibition can be seen on our You Tube channel, THNOCVIDEO.

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Karen Smith in front of her house,  Lakeview
October 20, 2005; by Keely Merritt

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Smith family in front of their house, Lakeview
January 12, 2010; by Keely Merritt

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