Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Digital Carnival Collection in Choice Reviews Online

LaRC's digital Carnival Collection was given a highly favorable review in the August 2012 issue of Choice Reviews Online.  D. M. Braquet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, writes that the resource is "highly recommended, all users."  



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  Humanities \ Performing Arts \ General The Carnival Collection.  Internet Resource. Reviewed in 2012aug CHOICE. http://larc.tulane.edu/exhibits/carnival [Visited May'12] The Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) at Tulane University preserves one of the most spectacular collections of New Orleans carnival-related materials and has now made a good portion accessible to the world. The Carnival Collection boasts more than 5,000 digital images of the original watercolor float and costume designs from artists of the golden age of carnival in New Orleans, which spanned the years from the late 1800s to the early 20th century. Designers represented include Jennie Wilde, B. A. Wikstrom, and Charles Briton; krewes (parade organizations) include Comus, Proteus, Momus, and Rex. The collection can be searched by keyword, including float or costume titles, parade themes, person portrayed, and year. The digital collection can also be browsed by krewe or designer. The interface is clean and easy to use, and loading of the pages is quite fast. Once searched, results appear as grids of thumbnails that can be clicked to see the full record and a larger image. Full resolution of the entire image is not enabled, perhaps due to concerns of copyright infringement. Images can be chosen and added to a favorites folder for side-by-side comparison, slide show, or saving as an HTML page.
For biographical and historical context, consultation of Henri Schindler's Mardi Gras Treasures: Float Designs of the Golden Age (2000) is a must. Nearly all of the images in Schindler's book are also in LaRC's digital collection, but when the book's images are compared with the original watercolors, it is apparent what a wonderful gift LaRC's digitization is to the public. A visual delight, this site will interest artists, graphic designers, costume designers, historians, and generations of Louisianans and visitors who share in the ongoing cultural custom that is carnival.Summing Up: Highly recommended. All users.
 -- D. M. Braquet, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The physical Carnival Collection (Manuscripts Collection 900 in the Louisiana Research Collection) consists of 102 linear feet (130 boxes, 2 map cases and 24 oversized items) and is itself continuously growing; this set of digital surrogates is a subset of the physical collection, and is included in the LOUISiana Digital Library.  The
 digitized Carnival Collection is a collaborative effort of  LaRC and Web Services.   The idea of starting the digitization of LaRC's massive archival holdings with images of beautiful unique artwork, comes from the Head of the Louisiana Research Collection, Leon Miller.

Caption: Afsara (courtesan), Carlotta Bonnecaze, Costume design from Krewe of Proteus 1889 parade. 

Posted by Susanna Powers

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