The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South.

Founded in 1966, THNOC has grown to include 13 historic buildings on three French Quarter campuses. Visit our new exhibition center, at 520 Royal Street, for an ever-changing array of programs and installations—and be sure to visit our museum shop and Café Cour while you’re there. Just across the street, at 533 Royal, the historic Merieult House anchors a complex of attractions including the Louisiana History Galleries and our house museum, the Williams Residence. The Chartres Street campus, located at 410 Chartres, comprises the Williams Research Center, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and on-site collections storage.

Through guided or cell-phone tours, visitors can learn about the architectural styles of the city’s oldest neighborhood, the Vieux Carré. Educational tours for school groups are also available, free of charge.

As a publisher, THNOC produces award-winning original books exploring the history, art, music, culture, and decorative arts of the region. Our magazine, the Historic New Orleans Collection Quarterly, surveys the region's history as it relates to THNOC's projects and programs.

New president/CEO assumes role July 1, 2019

photo of Priscilla Lawrence

Daniel Hammer began his tenure as the next president and chief executive officer of The Historic New Orleans Collection on Monday, July 1, 2019.

Hammer, who holds a master’s in preservation studies from Tulane University’s School of Architecture, is the organization’s seventh director and the first to be raised and educated in New Orleans.

He originally joined THNOC’s staff in 2005 as a receptionist. In his 14 years with the organization, he has served as a member of the reference staff in the Williams Research Center (including serving as the head of reader services from 2011-2014), where he worked closely with the institution’s holdings relating to the history of Louisiana’s German community.

Beginning in 2014 Hammer served as the deputy director/vice president, focusing his efforts on the THNOC’s mission of preserving the French Quarter as the vibrant, useful, and sustainable heart of the city.

“Preserving the history and culture of this area—including the architecture and material culture of its oldest neighborhood—directly enriches the lives of both our residents and visitors,” Hammer said.  “The Collection and its staff are engaged in work that is meaningful for all audiences. Our ambition is to reach the world with our message and meaning about New Orleans that resonates locally and resonates to everyone who visits the city.”

Hammer succeeds Priscilla Lawrence who retired June 30.


General L. Kemper and Leila Williams

detail of Liela Morre Williams portraitdetail of Kemper Williams portraitPortrait sketches of Leila Hardie Moore Williams and General L. Kemper Williams (detail); 1938; pencil; by Clarence Mattei; 75.135.1-.2 WR

Lewis Kemper Williams (1887–1971) was born in Patterson, Louisiana, in 1887. As a young man, he entered the family lumber business, becoming secretary-treasurer and, later, president of the F. B. Williams Cypress Company. From 1949 until his retirement in 1971, he served as president, director, and then chairman of the board of Williams Inc., a company with broad interests in land, mineral royalties, and investments. Williams served in the US army in World Wars I and II, rising to the rank of brigadier general.

In 1920 shortly after his tour of duty in World War I, Williams married New Orleans native Leila Hardie Moore (1901–1966) in New London, Connecticut. During their life together, the Williamses demonstrated a keen sense of civic and philanthropic responsibility. Beneficiaries of their generosity included the University of the South, Boy Scouts of America, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Anna’s Asylum, the Junior League, and the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. In 1937 Kemper Williams received one of the city’s highest honors: for his leadership of the New Orleans Housing Authority, he was awarded the Times-Picayune Loving Cup.

In 1938 the Williamses bought two properties in the French Quarter—the Merieult House on Royal Street and a late 19th-century residence contiguous to the Merieult House, facing Toulouse Street. The latter property was their home for 17 years, during which time they amassed a substantial collection of important Louisiana artifacts—the founding holdings of The Historic New Orleans Collection. 


Kemper and Leila Williams Foundation

With the goal of making their collected materials available to the public for future generations, the couple established The Historic New Orleans Collection. With their deaths—hers in 1966 and his in 1971—the Kemper and Leila Williams Foundation was established to ensure stable, long-term financial support for The Collection. A seven-member board of directors oversees the institution’s operation, providing guidance and insight.

Board of Directors

Drew Jardine, Chair

John Kallenborn, Vice Chair

E. Alexandra Stafford

Hilton S. Bell

Bonnie Boyd

Lisa H. Wilson

G. Charles Lapeyre

John E. Walker, Emeritus