On Saturday, April 6, The Historic New Orleans Collection — a museum, research center and publisher with two campuses in the French Quarter — will throw open the doors to a $38 million expansion of its museum facilities, offering a significant addition to New Orleans's cultural attractions. Located at 520 Royal St. and made possible in part through generous donations from the institution's supporters, the new campus will bring THNOC's total footprint in the historic district to around 100,000 square feet.
The new exhibition center comprises a meticulous restoration of a historic 19th-century building and courtyard, which is connected to a brand new, purpose-built rear building, totaling more than 36,000 square feet. This unique melding of old and new spaces is unlike anything else in the French Quarter.
"The best part of any story is the next chapter," said Priscilla Lawrence, THNOC president and chief executive officer. "This project has been in the works for almost 15 years, but we were determined to both bring back and add to the historic structure and its layered history for locals and visitors alike to enjoy."
The site will house the city's only continuing exhibition on the history of the French Quarter; changing exhibitions; dynamic digital interactive displays; a hands-on educational space; a fully restored Aeolian pipe organ; a 2,000-square-foot museum shop; and a café.
The first major changing exhibition at the site will also be THNOC's first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art: "Art of the City: Postmodern to Post-Katrina," presented by The Helis Foundation. Following THNOC's other locations, admission to the new center will be free.
"We hope to change, or add to, how people think of the French Quarter," said Daniel Hammer, THNOC's vice president and deputy director. "We want to expand people's appreciation for the dynamism of the French Quarter as a historic resource."
The site at 520 Royal St. joins THNOC's two other locations: 533 Royal St., which houses a continuing exhibition on Louisiana history as well as guided tours of the home of THNOC's founders, Kemper and Leila Williams, and 410 Chartres St., the Williams Research Center.
The new exhibition center's hours will be 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday, and 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on Sunday. More information is available online at www.hnoc.org.
About The Historic New Orleans Collection
Founded in 1966, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center and publisher dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. For more information, visit www.hnoc.org