Le Missisipi ou la Louisiane dans l’Amérique Septentrionale

Le Missisipi ou la Louisiane dans l’Amérique Septentrionale; ca. 1720; hand-colored engraving by François Chéreau; The Historic New Orleans Collection, 1959.210


February 27, 2018 to May 27, 2018
Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
533 Royal Street
Admission is free.

In commemoration of the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018, The Historic New Orleans Collection will provide a multifaceted exploration of the city’s first few decades and its earliest inhabitants with New Orleans, the Founding Era, an original exhibition and bilingual companion catalog.

Opening February 27, 2018, and sponsored by Whitney Bank, New Orleans, the Founding Era will bring together a vast array of rare artifacts from THNOC’s holdings and from institutions across Europe and North America to tell the stories of the city’s early days, when the city consisted of little more than hastily assembled huts and buildings.

Beginning with the region’s Native American tribes, through the waves of European arrival and the forced migration of enslaved African people, the exhibition will reflect on the complicated and often conflicted meanings the settlement’s development held for individuals, empires and indigenous nations.

The display will feature works on paper, ethnographic and archaeological artifacts, scientific and religious instruments, paintings, maps and charts, manuscripts and rare books. These original objects—such as a model of the ship La Dauphine, which carried early New Orleans resident Jean-Charles de Pradel to New Orleans, or the mortar and pestle used by Ursuline nun Sister Saint Francis Xavier to mix medicines—will be complemented by large-scale reproductions and interactive items.

More than 75 objects will be on loan from organizations in Spain, France, Canada and around the United States. A number of items, like a pair of 18th-century Native American bear-paw moccasins from the Musée du quai Branly in Paris and pieces of 15th-century Mississippian pottery from the University of Mississippi, have rarely traveled beyond their home institutions.

Digital interactives will include a gallery of photographs from archaeological digs at a variety of French Quarter sites, a game quizzing visitors on supplies needed for a new home in the settlement and a 1731 inventory of enslaved Africans and African-descended people living on a West Bank plantation.

In addition, the companion catalog—a bilingual edition, in both English and French—will feature essays describing the different populations who inhabited precolonial New Orleans and the surrounding areas, as well as the forces driving the settlement’s growth. Essayists include exhibition curator Erin M. Greenwald and historians Emily Clark, Shannon Lee Dawdy, Robbie Ethridge, Gilles-Antoine Langlois, Yevan Terrien, Daniel Usner and Cécile Vidal. Gérard Araud, ambassador of France to the United States, contributed the book’s foreword.

Available Tours
Guided tours of the exhibition
Daily, Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.
February 28–May 27, 2018

Admission is $5, free for THNOC members. Tours are limited to 10 people. No reservations will be taken at this time.

Themed-tours of the exhibition
Every Friday, 2 p.m.
March 2–May 25, 2018

Admission is free. Tours are limited to 10 people. No reservations will be taken at this time.

New Orleans, the Founding Era bilingual mobile app tour
Explore the French colonial period with a bilingual (French and English) mobile gallery tour accompanying the exhibition New Orleans, the Founding Era, on view February 27 through May 27, 2018, at THNOC’s Royal Street campus. The exhibition brings together a vast array of rare artifacts from THNOC’S holdings and from institutions across Europe and North America to tell the stories of the city’s earliest days. 

Compatible with iOS, Android, and web devices, the tour is available for download at hnoc.oncell.com.

The book has been made possible with support from the 2018 NOLA Foundation, Air Liquide, Alliance Française de la Nouvelle-Orléans, Council of French Societies in New Orleans, France-Louisiane Franco Américanie Association, Les Causeries du Lundi, L’Union Française, French American Chamber of Commerce–Gulf Coast Chapter, Consulate General of France in New Orleans, IBERIABANK, Dr. Phillip Mollère and E. Alexandra Stafford. 

The exhibition is made possible with support from the following sponsors.


Please note: THNOC is closed on Good Friday, March 30, and Easter Sunday, April 1. THNOC will reopen Tuesday, April 3, with normal hours.

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