N.O. symposium will examine state’s natural history

Ten scholars in the fields of science, art, history and preservation will discuss Louisiana’s natural history Saturday, Feb. 23, at The Historic New Orleans Collection’s 18th annual Williams Research Center Symposium.

An all-day event, “Seeking the Unknown: Perspectives on Louisiana’s Natural History” will take place at the Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., in the French Quarter.

The presentations will examine several centuries’ worth of human interactions with the Louisiana environment, including sessions on pre-colonial American Indians, the first European observations of the area, Spanish governor Antonio de Ulloa’s scientific pursuits, noted naturalist John James Audubon and more.

In addition, representatives from two Louisiana university museums will participate in a panel discussion on the preservation of the state’s natural history.

Robert A. Thomas, director of the Loyola University Center for Environmental Communication, will serve as the symposium moderator. Speakers include Henry L. Bart Jr., Tulane University Museum of Natural History; Prosanta Chakrabarty, Museum of Natural Science, LSU; Robbie Ethridge, the University of Mississippi; Gay Gomez, McNeese State University (retired); Christopher W. Lane, the Philadelphia Print Shop West; Gilles-Antoine Langlois, National School of Architecture at Versailles, University Paris-Est Créteil; Joel Oppenheimer, president, Joel Oppenheimer, Inc.; Neil Safier, University of British Columbia, Vancouver; and Boris Teske, Louisiana Tech University.

Registration is required and rates range between $40 and $85. Registration fees include the full day of presentations plus a special preview of the companion exhibition Seeking the Unknown: Natural History Observations in Louisiana, 1698–1840, on Friday, Feb. 22, where attendees will have an opportunity to meet the speakers and exhibition curators.

The more than 100 items on display include centuries-old plant and animal specimens native to Louisiana and collected by various explorers and scientists; and several reptile specimens in jars that were collected in the 1830s.

Detailed drawings, watercolors and illustrated folios — including several by John James Audubon — also will be on display.

The exhibit will run through June 2 at the collection’s location at 533 Royal St., in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Gallery hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.

To register for the symposium, including a complete schedule of talks and links to online registration, visit http://www.hnoc.org/programs/symposia.html.

For more information, call (504) 523-4662 or visit http://www.hnoc.org.

The Historic New Orleans Collection