Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Hurricane Museum

From nola dot com

The Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans remembers the devastation and showcase the renewal with a new exhibit years in the making. Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond is a $7.5 million exhibit opening on the ground floor of the historic Presbytere in the French Quarter’s Jackson Square. The 6,700 square-foot installation tells the stories of real people caught in the hurricane’s wrath. It tells of their rescue, recovery, rebuilding and renewal in a way certain to move both those who survived the storms of 2005 and those who watched the events unfold on TV.

The show is billed by the museum as the largest hurricane exhibition in the world, and it covers a lot of ground: the nature of hurricanes, Hurricane Betsy and other storms that hit New Orleans in the past, levee engineering, coastal marshes, Hurricane Rita and of course the full story of Katrina’s impact, from evacuation to flooding to the city’s gradual repopulation, rebuilding and recovery.

The first object that will meet visitors’ eyes is one of the most striking: a ruined Steinway baby grand piano recovered from Fats Domino’s flooded Lower 9th Ward home.

A pair of blue jeans shows the identification and medical information their owner wrote on them in case he was injured or killed as he sought help.

One of the most memorable items is the “Mabry wall,” the daily diary that B.W. Cooper housing complex resident Tommie Elton Mabry wrote on the walls of his apartment with a black felt tip marker, starting the day before the storm hit and continuing for weeks afterward. The museum staff painstakingly peeled off the paint bearing his journal before the building was demolished.

Besides actual artifacts, exhibits incorporate some of the hundreds of oral histories the museum has assembled. Some of them play while a simulated helicopter hovers overhead, recalling the aerial rescues of stranded residents.

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