Monday, February 18, 2019

New Carnival Exhibit in Special Collections

Mark your calendars for Thursday February 28, 2pm-4pm, in the 2nd Floor Special Collections Gallery, Jones Hall, 6801 Freret Street, New Orleans, LA 70118, for the opening reception of Special Collections' new exhibit "Proteus 1892, Teunisson 1902, and Louis Armstrong 1949: Selections from the Carnival Holdings of Tulane University's Special Collections Division." Free and open to all, king cake and coffee will be provided. We hope to see you there, and happy Mardi Gras!

One highlight of this exhibit is the complete set of original float designs for the 1892 Proteus parade. Designed by Carlotta Bonnecaze around the theme “A Dream of the Vegetable Kingdom,” the designs reveal an almost hallucinatory level of creativity and delight, from frightened English peas to mighty warrior acorns. Other highlights are photographs taken by noted New Orleans photographer John Norris Teunisson documenting Mardi Gras along Canal Street and in the French Quarter in 1902; photographs documenting the 70th anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s reign as King Zulu in 1949; Carnival music recordings by Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Professor Longhair; and photographs of Tulane students yelling “Throw me something, Mista!” at passing floats. Together, the items on display reveal the depth and range of Carnival in New Orleans.

Special Collections has a special mission to preserve the culture of Carnival in New Orleans and that mission is supported by all of the division’s five departments. From rare jazz recordings to the largest collection in the world of original pre-WWII Carnival float and costume designs, this exhibit brings together holdings from the Hogan Jazz Archive, the Louisiana Research Collection, the Rare Books unit, the Southeastern Architectural Archive, and the University Archives to demonstrate how different collecting goals can complement each other and expand our understanding in creative ways. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Above, Float design for Green Peas from the Proteus 1892 parade, "A Dream of a Vegetable Kingdom." At top, Costume design for rider, "green pea man," for above float. Both designed by Carlotta Bonnecaze. Watercolor on paper. Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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