on image for publication quality photo
MADISONVILLE PIONEERS – Southeastern Louisiana
University students Edward Brown, Jan Pine and Jo Baham work on the graphics
for their exhibit, “Madisonville Pioneers,” one of two exhibits that have
been created by Southeastern students for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin
Maritime Museum. The exhibits will be unveiled at a reception on Sunday,
Dec. 11, from 2-4 p.m.
DISPLAY -- Southeastern Louisiana University students, from left, John
Avery, Robin Rodrigue, Justin Barrilleaux and Elaine Kraemer paint one
of the panels for their exhibit, “From Natchez to New Orleans: Steamships
of the Lower Mississippi River,” which will be on display at the Lake Pontchartrain
Basin Maritime Museum.
SOUTHEASTERN STUDENTS TO UNVEIL
NEW EXHIBITS AT LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN BASIN MARITIME MUSEUM
HAMMOND – Madisonville’s
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum is unveiling two new exhibits
created by students enrolled in a Southeastern Louisiana University history
The general public is invited
to view the exhibits and hear a special presentation by the students at
a reception on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 2-4 p.m.
Southeastern history professor
David Benac said the exhibits explore Madisonville shipbuilding families
and the history, structure, and repair of steamboats. “Madisonville Pioneers”
was researched, created and installed by Jan Pine of Covington, Jo Baham
of Madisonville and Edward Brown of Mandeville. “From Natchez to New Orleans:
Steamships of the Lower Mississippi River” is the work of Elaine Kraemer,
Amite; Robin Rodrigue, Ponchatoula; Justin Barrilleaux, Hammond; and John
Avery, Washington, D.C.
The seven students are
enrolled in “Introduction to Museum Practice,” one of the courses taught
by Benac in Southeastern’s minor in public history program. Benac said
his class worked closely with museum staff and volunteers, including Nixon
Adams, David Carambat, Bob Doolittle, and Ken Millstead, to design and
install the new displays.
“This is the type of outcome
we have always wanted to see generated by Southeastern’s partnership with
the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum,” said William Robinson, head
of Southeastern’s Department of History and Political Science. “The work
our students have done is good for the museum, the public and the many
school children who visit the museum.
“It certainly is good for
our students themselves,” he added. “It is true service learning. They
had the opportunity to do exactly what they will do if they choose to go
into museum work,” one of the careers targeted by Southeastern’s two-year-old
minor in public history.
Introduction to Museum
Practice, the students admit, has been unique, labor-intensive and rewarding.
Pine, who was a graphic designer and has years of experience with museums
and art associations; Baham, who is a member of one of the boatbuilding
families the exhibit will highlight; and Brown, a carpenter, found that
their range of expertise blended well. Their “Mandeville Pioneers” will
be the first exhibit to greet museum visitors.
Pine designed the large
graphic background and conducted much of the research. Baham personally
collected information, photographs and other items from her family and
others such as the Canulettes. Brown also conducted research and is building
the podium that will display a “family album,” a book featuring an informational
page on each family. While extensive information is available on families
such as the Jahnckes, the heritage of others, such as the Drinkwaters,
is more obscure.
“I’m hoping that their
descendants will see the book and add to the information and that it will
continue to grow,” Pine said.
A copy of the book will
also be placed in the exhibit’s “heritage trunk,” a wooden trunk containing
artifacts such as hand-forged iron nails and hanks of old rope. Teachers
will be able to check out the trunk and take it to their classrooms.
“We started this project
before the hurricane,” Baham said. “After, the group asked Dr. Benac if
we could change our topic, because we were really uncomfortable” about
intruding on people still coping with the hurricane’s aftermath. “I thought
people were not going to want to talk to me now. But they have been really
excited,” Baham said. “They have a lot of stuff that they nearly lost and
now want to put somewhere where it will be preserved.”
The steamboat exhibit created
by Avery, Barrilleaux, Kramer and Rodrigue consists of three panels and
an interactive display.
“The center panel is a
brief history of steamboats as well as some of the early contributors to
the engine design,” explained Barrilleaux, a Cultural Resource Management
major. “We’ll also show the significance that steamboats had for Louisiana
as a transportation innovation. The side panels are going to show structure
While Barrilleaux and Kramer,
a recent CRM graduate who plans to pursue a graduate degree focused on
public history, concentrated on content and design, Avery and Rodrique,
both history graduate students, have put construction and mechanical skills
to work on an interactive program that will use air pressure to illustrate
a steamboat engine’s moving pistons.
“We’re trying to make our
exhibit as diverse as possible so that it can appeal to a broader audience,”
In a semester interrupted
and disrupted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the group estimates that
they have put at least 12 hours a week into the exhibit – “a lot more than
any study group would actually spend together,” Avery said.
Their hard work, they said,
has not necessarily been inspired by the hope of good grades.
“Look at the incentive
we have,” Barrilleaux laughed. “If we do poorly, it’s not just a grade,
it’s a potential public display of shame.”
“They have done a wonderful
job,” said Benac. “These exhibits are a chance for Southeastern to show
what we have to offer. This kind of learning outside the classroom gives
a whole new dimension to history.”
“I took this course just
because it was taught at night in Madisonville,” admitted Baham. A special
education major who works for the St. Tammany Parish School Board, she
is the only class member not focusing on a history-related career. “I didn’t
really think I would enjoy this. The first night of class I said, ‘You
mean we’re going to do an exhibit that’s going to stay; everybody’s going
to see it?’ That was intimidating for me. But the research, the history,
having so many relatives involved, knowing so many of the people, it’s
really been interesting.”
For additional information
about the exhibits contact Benac at 985-549-5728 or the Lake Pontchartrain
Basin Maritime Museum at 985-845-9200.