2017: New Orleans

Museum Day

April 6


It was time to return to the French Quarter. The traffic was a bit worse and the parking lots more occupied than our first visit, and it was soon apparent why. We had stumbled into something called the French Quarter Festival, a four-day free music event with 23 stages scattered throughout the Quarter. My favorite thing, throngs of people. Oh joy.

We decided we should go where everyone else wasn't. Jackson Square was a teeming mass of people watching a musical act on a temporary stage. We skirted around the edges to the Presbytère, one of two matching buildings which sandwich St. Louis Cathedral. Since 2010 the bottom floor of this state-run museum has been devoted to a Hurricane Katrina exhibit.

As with many of the museums we've seen, there was too much information to absorb or even to read. Paradoxically, there was very little to photograph; it was like reading a large-type book spread out over 5000 square feet.

The conditions in the rooms didn't make it easy, either. The lighting in the place was uneven and haphazard. Many of the placards were white type against a too-light background, making them prone to reflections and very difficult to read. Perhaps they were trying to recreate the atmosphere of desperation around the event itself, but I thought it was a poor design.

  Piano recovered from Fats Domino's house.

I did find some of the history interesting, how since the 1700s human settlers have been determined to tame the floodwaters. And that in more recent times, all the abatement measures taken to stop floods from the Mississippi River have led to the destruction of protective wetlands and left the area open to increased danger from hurricanes.

Sign me up!

And now, for something completely different: we moved from the disaster of Katrina to the celebration of Mardi Gras. We'd seen the floats at Mardi Gras World, now we'd see a few costumes and throws and what-have-you.

The museum also had a lot of detailed information about the various "krewes", their names and histories, how they started, who were members, what makes each unique. Too much detail for my modest interest level.

Not-porta potty.

There was more in the museum, but it really wasn't interesting to us. I'd say the best thing in the building was their sense of humor about the restrooms.

We emerged into a crowd watching the street performers in front of the cathedral. Fleeing from the mob, around the corner I heard an incredible clarinet playing "Saints" and I trotted toward it like moth to flame.

Doreen Ketchens, the clarinet queen.

I was too transfixed to think of takiing a video, but I did get a picture of the artist later, and Mike bought one of her CDs. Check out Doreen's Jazz on YouTube, she's truly a marvel.

I had one unfulfilled task in the French Quarter: a beignet at Cafe du Monde. I'd already tried one in a different restaurant, but a close friend assured me I hadn't had the REAL thing yet.

The line was long, but I hadn't come this far to give up. And yes, it was worth it.

We took a final stroll around the less-crowded side of Jackson Square. I spotted some art I had seen before in another shop, and this time I couldn't resist capturing it in photographs.