New Orleans: More Than the French Quarter
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. It gets a lot of publicity, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only game in town. We’re going to take a quick look here at two museums you may find interesting. We say “quick” because we’re not going to bore you. Instead, we’ll give you highlights to spark your interest PLUS a link to their sites.
THE BACKSTREET CULTURAL MUSEUM
The idea for this museum started with an enterprising individual named Sylvester Francis who is quoted as saying, “I liked the culture of New Orleans so much that when I took a picture of someone I’d make sure they had a copy.” He focused on the Carnival celebrations, jazz funerals and second-line parades. Hold on. What’s a second-line?
“Second line” is a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans. The "first line" is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with a parading permit as well as a brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the "second line."
In 1988 Francis began displaying his photographs in his two-car garage in the “back streets” of the historic Tremé neighborhood. Public interest grew and in 1999 the Backstreet Cultural Museum was incorporated as a nonprofit organization. Today it holds a spectacular collection and has filmed over 500 events. It comes out with a book every year titled, Keeping Jazz Funerals Alive. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm and is closed on Sunday. CLICK HERE for more information about Backstreet.
This album follows the script of a traditional New Orleans style funeral – starts slow and then moves to more upbeat and joyous tunes (you’ll find this CD on Amazon)
THE OGDEN MUSEUM OF SOUTHERN ART
This museum is located in the Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans and holds a spectacular collection of Southern art. It was established in 1999 and welcomes 85,000 visitors annually. It presents a broad range of activities that include: exhibitions, lectures, film screenings and concerts – all of which are designed to broaden the knowledge and appreciation of the visual arts and culture of the American South.
A donation of more than 600 works from New Orleans resident, Roger Ogden has grown to more than 4,000 works of paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures from collectors in 15 Southern states. This museum is open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm and Thursday nights to 8pm for Ogden After Hours. CLICK HERE for more information about this museum.
IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE IN NEW ORLEANS – DO THIS
I’m talking about going on a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River. We elected to go late in the day when the sun was setting, have dinner onboard and return after dark. I wanted to go at this particular time but I had certain reservations so I said to Peter, my husband, “Now, I don’t want to hear any whining if the dinner isn’t up to scratch. This is a tourist attraction with a lot of people – all eating at the same time -- so that has to be taken into consideration.”
I should have shelved the lecture. The entrée included “catfish” and my heart sank when I heard this. I had never eaten catfish in my life. Well, it was baked catfish with an almond crust that was so good I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. This was topped off with a bread pudding dessert that was also delicious. There were big smiles all around – the dinner was terrific.
We went very slowly up the Mississippi listening to music by a talented group – I think they played ragtime. Whatever. It definitely added to the relaxed vibe on the boat. Then, just as the sun disappeared we turned around and started back down the river. This was VERY dramatic: the dark, slow-moving Mississippi with hundreds of twinkling lights all along the shoreline was a great sight. CLICK HERE for more information.