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.