Storyville: Madams and Music revives the sights and sounds of New Orleans’s former red-light district a century after its closing. Using a diverse display of photographs, maps, postcards, contemporary objects, and the infamous blue books that served as directories to the District’s prostitutes, the exhibition encourages a better understanding of the music, people, and businesses that shaped the complicated legacies of Storyville.
Formed by an 1897 ordinance, introduced by Alderman Sidney Story, Storyville was a legally sanctioned prostitution district located just north of the French Quarter. The varied attractions of sex, music, and dance emanating from the District’s brothels, saloons, and beer halls lured visitors from around the country, giving rise to a nationally important tourism center. Pioneering musicians like Manuel “Fess” Manetta, Jelly Roll Morton, and Joe “King” Oliver experimented with new styles and techniques there, and in the same year the District closed—1917— the Original Dixieland Jazz Band released the first jazz record, “Livery Stable Blues.”
Storyville: Madams and Music guides visitors through the rise and fall of the neighborhood, that helped shape the notorious reputation that adheres to New Orleans today. The exhibition complements THNOC’s newest book, Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville, New Orleans, the first thorough contemporary study of these rare guides, available February 3, 2017.