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Travel Treasures departments
May/Jun 2011 Issue

New Orleans “temple of art” is celebrating its centennial

The New Orleans Museum of Art opened its doors 100 years ago with a major benefactor’s goal for it to be a “temple of art for rich and poor alike,” and since then, it has become not just a sanctuary of art but a celebration.

The celebration continues during the museum’s centennial this year with special exhibitions that highlight the museum’s vast and diverse permanent collection of more than 40,000 objects. One of the premier art museums in the country, the museum is noted for its strengths in French and American art, photography, glass, African and Japanese works, as well as for its outstanding five-acre sculpture garden.

One of the special exhibitions this year, “Ancestors of Congo Square: African Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art,” will showcase the museum’s impressive African collection from May 13–July 17. Examining the connection between New Orleans and Africa, the exhibition was named after historical Congo Square near the French Quarter where African-American slaves were given a day off to gather, socialize, dance and sing.

In addition to special exhibitions, the museum is hosting parties each Friday night called “Where Y’Art?” Visitors enjoy different offerings of live music, performances, children’s activities, exhibition walk-throughs, speakers, theater and, of course, great art.

The year’s celebration will culminate from Nov. 13–Feb. 19, 2012, with “100/4/100: Gifts for the Second Century–Celebrating the Centennial of the New Orleans Museum of Art.” The exhibit of more than 100 works of art given during the past five years will demonstrate not only the continued commitment of a dedicated group of existing donors, but it will herald new donors and new directions for the collection as the museum embarks on its second century.

The museum is located in City Park at 1 Collins Diboll Circle. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Fridays. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for children 7–17. For details, call (504) 658-4100 or visit

(c) Picasso

Visitors enjoying a work by Picasso at the museum (above). The museum’s African collection will take center stage this summer (below). NOMA photos



A former president is honoring The King in Little Rock, Ark.

Elvis Presley performed across Arkansas when he was starting his career, and it was where he received his legendary GI haircut. But this summer, there will be a buzz in Arkansas for The King that goes beyond his famous buzzcut.

The Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock is hosting an acclaimed exhibition of photographs of Elvis at a time when he was just on the threshold of stardom. On display from June 4–Aug. 21 at the Clinton Center, “Elvis at 21” was developed collaboratively by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Govinda Gallery.

The collection includes 40 photographs that were taken by freelance photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer, who was hired by RCA Victor in 1956 to shoot promotional images of the recently signed 21-year-old recording artist. Wertheimer’s instincts to “tag along” with Elvis after the assignment and the resulting images provide a look at Elvis before he became one of the most exciting performers of his time.

Wertheimer had unparalleled access and documented Elvis on the road, backstage, in concert and at home in Memphis, Tenn. The photographer was in the recording studio on the historic day Elvis recorded “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.” Both songs hit No. 1 on the charts.

The museum is located in the River Market District at 1200 President Clinton Ave. Hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and college students and $3 for children 6–17. Call (501) 374-4242 for details, or visit www.clinton

©Alfred Wertheimer photo

The black-and-white photos offer an intimate look at Elvis. ©Alfred Wertheimer photo


Hot Springs tub races will be good clean fun

Organizers of most festivals pray that it doesn’t rain, but the folks putting on the Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs in Hot Springs, Ark., say the bathtub races will be held rain or shine.

And why wouldn’t they?

“Rain doesn’t hurt bathtubs,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

It’s that same lighthearted attitude that permeates the annual festival, which will be held this year on Saturday, May 14, in downtown Hot Springs. Wildly costumed teams will compete in the races along Bathhouse Row in tubs decked out as cars, airplanes, rockets, pirate ships and even more outlandish designs. Among the hilarious rules, including the requirement of hats and suspenders, is that the tubs must contain water and one bather.

The festival kicks off on Friday evening at 5 p.m. at the Exchange Street Parking Plaza for a party when the judges will inspect the tubs. Saturday morning’s activities begin at 9 a.m. with the Parade of Tubs followed by the races. In addition to prizes awarded for the fastest team, trophies will be presented to the Most Original and the Most Humorous tubs.

The awards ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m., followed by a fried chicken lunch. The Running of the Tubs was created in 2006 as a way to remind the world that Hot Springs’ fabled thermal waters have lured bathers and visitors for more than 175 years.

For more details, contact the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 922-6478 or (501) 321-2027, or visit


Teams preparing to race with their souped-up tubs. Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau photo


Powerboat races will roar in the Gulf Coast

The roar of powerful engines will echo off the Mississippi Sound and Gulfport Lake as racing boats slice through the water during the Gulf Coast’s 8th annual Smokin’ the Sound and Smokin’ the Lake this May.

Smokin’ the Sound, May 12–15, will feature more than 30 sleek racing boats clocking speeds in excess of 150 mph. It’s the first race of the year for the Offshore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association. Additional thrills are provided by the air show of rescue helicopters hovering as close as 25 feet from the boats.

Then the following weekend, May 20–22, Smokin’ the Lake will attract more than 60 boats to Gulfport Lake just northeast of Gulfport, where they’ll race in seven thrilling categories.

Both events are free to spectators. However, premium viewing and admittance packages are available for $10 at each event, offering easy access to restrooms and the Race Village, featuring live music, vendors and food. A $25 wristband will be available at the Smokin’ the Sound event offering access to VIP viewing areas and the Race Village.

Tickets to the Race Village only are $5 per day. Children under 12 get in free when accompanied by an adult.

For details, call (888) 808-1188 or (288) 594-3442, or visit


The boats will top 150 mph in some of the races. Smokin’ the Sound photo


Eat around the world in Baton Rouge

Your culinary and cultural passport to the world awaits at the Internation-al Tasting Fair and Cooking Competition in Baton Rouge this June as area amateur cooks showcase their favorite recipes representing cuisines of dozens of countries.

Sponsored by the Baton Rouge Center for World Affairs, Inc. and the Louisiana State Museum, the Passport to the World International Tasting Fair and Cooking Competition will be held on Sunday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m. at the Louisiana State Museum. Now in its 12th year, the competition offers amateur cooks the chance to vie for top honors for ethnic dishes, and guests get to sample the competitors’ creations. Plus, guests are treated to a variety of dishes provided by local international restaurants.

The deadline for recipe submissions is May 27, and rules are posted at

Entertainment during the evening will include traditional international dances and lively Caribbean music. Guests are encouraged to wear the native attire of their heritage.

The Louisiana State Museum is located at 660 N. 4th St. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door or $200 for a table for 10. Student admission (18 years and under) is $15. For tickets, call (225) 930-0901 or visit

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