The photographic records that derived from Katrina are often powerful and poignant, and difficult to process. They’ve been a practically unavoidable presence in social media feeds in the run up to the ten year anniversary of Katrina’s landfall, a state of affairs that understandably irks many of those who lived through the events the photos depict.

If we had to pick one collection of pictures from the storm, online or otherwise, a visitor or local should access, we’d point you in the direction of The Historic New Orleans Collection The Katrina Decade – Images of an Altered City.


Six Flags

Seventh Ward

New Orleans East

The Katrina Decade is the creative child of photograper David G. Spielman, who is known for both his fine arts photography and photojournalism. The free exhibition, which is on display until Jan 9, 2016, often feels like a balance of those two genres. It’s no surprise that Spielman lists photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange as inspirations; his images seem project the haunted, hollowed out desperation of Dust Bowl Oklahoma onto post hurricane Louisiana.

And yet, shots of the West Bank, Central City and Mid-City are not a mere catalog of destruction.

A Who Dat Nation signpost in Central City whimsically points the way to the city’s many neighborhoods. The Felicity St entrance of the Greater Full Gospel Church promises that “Nothing Too Hard for God.”

New Orleans has a melancholy beauty that defies logic and transcends time. David G. Spielman

Switch Uptown, and a tree seems to grow out of a stairway to heaven. In New Orleans East, a ruined home resembles a jungly Hobbit house, overgrown with vines and ivy. In Hollygrove, a mural remains amidst the weeds and watermarks.

Many pictures are the last known photographs of buildings that were eventually razed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In total, the exhibition consists of 125 images that explore all angles of a flooded, and post flood city.

“New Orleans has a melancholy beauty that defies logic and transcends time,” said Spielman in a THNOC press release. “In the years after Katrina, I explored and continue even now to explore most of the city, trying to capture the city’s story for future generations.”

Beyond photography, the exhibition also contains archival material culled from the Unified New Orleans Plan, the official civic recovery plan for the city. An accompanying book, The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City ($40) contains 138 black-and-white photographs, as well as essays by Spielman, THNOC exhibition curator John H. Lawrence and journalist and preservationist Jack Davis.

The Historic New Orleans Collection is located at 400 Chartres St, and is open from 9:30am-4:30pm Tue-Sat. The Katrina Decade is a free exhibition. All of the above images are by David G. Spielman.

Our Local Publisher Partners

The Arts Council of New Orleans

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.


WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

Southern Food

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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