Situated on Jackson Square in the French Quarter, the Louisiana State Museum has recently opened an exhibit that documents Louisianans’ survival of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the science of hurricanes. "Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond,” in the words of museum director Sam Rykels, “documents the human struggle in the face of a natural disaster, incorporating everything from survivors' personal mementos to their thoughts and feelings. It documents how the recovery has brought about innovations — turning the region into a laboratory of new ideas.”
As Art Daily reports, “Galleries and connecting areas move visitors through four major presentations: New Orleans' relationship to storms; firsthand accounts of people and predicaments of survival they found themselves in; a forensics gallery exploring the paths Katrina and Hurricane Rita took that year and the science of how the levees failed; and a final section on recovery and the technologies emerging since to combat the destructive forces of nature.”
One of the biggest draws will undoubtedly be Fats Domino’s damaged baby grand piano, rescued from his 9th ward home. “Living with Hurricanes” includes many other displays as well, ones with less significance for rock ‘n’ roll history, but with more affective force. For instance, the collection includes the journal a man kept while trapped in his house during the storm, which he wrote with a felt marker on his walls, and a pair of jeans another man wore with his and his wife’s names and the name and number of the hotel to which she had evacuated while he stayed behind, so that she could be contacted in the event of his death.
The exhibition opened in October, and includes online galleries of Katrina photos and personal stories.