By Coby Steele
Today we woke up to early to attend the Southwestern Social Science Association Conference. We enjoyed hearing the latest research in the field of political science, and I particularly enjoyed hearing the presentation of Jeremy Johnson and Barry Lancaster who studied the effects of ballot formats on voters. It’s my first conference, and I am looking forward to tomorrows’ panels.
World War II Museum
Following the panels, we visited the World War II Museum in downtown New Orleans. The Museum was undergoing expansion, as it prepares to open five new areas in a year or so. The Museum was also crowded, but we were able to go through at a decent pace, starting with Pearl Harbor to the Japanese surrender. It was an interesting visit, with many photographs, artifacts, and interactive stations. The personal accounts were perhaps the most moving; there’s just something to hearing from people who participated in some of the nation’s greatest battles. While the Museum’s emphasis is on the European Theater, there is much information on the Pacific Theater as well.
In fact, the exhibit I found most interesting included two letters in a display case. A soldier had written a letter home to his parents telling them how he missed and loved them. The second letter was from his mother to him, writing to tell him of the love se had for him and how she missed him as well. A few weeks later, the mother received her son’s letter followed a few days letter by her own letter returned unopened with a few of her son’s possessions found on his person. Reading that story and being able to read these letters and see the feelings poured into them was a real eye opener to me on the loss that was felt by so many families from the war.
The Museum also featured a special exhibit on the NFL, timed to honor the New Orleans Saints after their Super Bowl win, and this was Will’s favorite exhibit. In his defense, he’d actually seen the WWII Museum on a previous Junior Fellows’ trip.
New Orleans Museum of Fine Art
From Elizabeth’s we left for the New Orleans Museum of Art. There we walked through the sculpture garden and got to see many interesting pieces of modern art. We saw a piece by Jesus Moroles…
…a hippie contemplating “LOVE…”
…and Jake found a friend in the middle of the park…
…and some curious sculptures…
…which none of us could quite figure out…
Once we finished outside inside we got see paintings and artifacts spanning the globe and time, from ancient China to modern day the museum had a lot in between. One painting that stuck out for me was of Marie Antoinette, by Elisabeth Vigeé-Lebrun, who painted it in 1788. The painting stood eight feet tall in a grand frame and showed the french queen in all of her splendor with fine clothes and jewels. It seemed fitting to me that this is how her portrait should be preserved as she lived her life in abundant comfort and ignorance that led to such contempt for her and eventually led to her death in the French Revolution.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that we ran into the Blue Dog again. He is omni-present.
Once we finished our visit to the museum we came back to our hotel to rest up and get ready for tomorrow, although we did take a late-night excursion for food. The students went and had a delicious meal at Remoulade along with some fun stops before calling it a night.