New Orleans, the Founding Era

All year along, New Orleans has been celebrating 300 years of rich history, diversity, cultural traditions and resilience in true New Orleans fashion. The Tricentennial celebrations include a variety of special events, concerts, fireworks and completion of major infrastructure projects. One of our favorites - New Orleans, the Founding Era - an exhibit at The Historic New Orleans Collection is winding down, leaving the Collection on May 27th. Be sure to check it out this week! 


 A must for history buffs and lovers of the city, the Historic New Orleans Collection connects the dots in more than three centuries of New Orleans lore. A museum, research center, and publisher, the Historic New Orleans Collection was founded in 1966 to preserve the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region.

In commemoration of the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018, The Collection has provided a multifaceted exploration of the city’s first few decades and its earliest inhabitants with the original exhibition and bilingual companion catalog.

 New Orleans, the Founding Era showcases 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 features 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. 

The Historic New Orleans Collection is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except holidays). Tours of the history galleries and the Williams Residence are at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m., Groups of eight or more require a reservation. The best part is admission to the museum and self-guided tours are FREE!

For updates and information about the New Orleans Tricentennial, stay tuned to Be sure to visit and like us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for solo travel tips and recommendations.