The Shadows-on-the-Teche held a ribbon-cutting reopening for their new exhibit Friday, which reframes the exhibit to focus on the hands that built and maintained the Shadows.
The new exhibit vividly depicts the lives of the Black men and women who truly built the Shadows-on-the-Teche. They meticulously adorned each room with craft materials and tools which showed the skills and artistry they possessed along with paintings and portraits, which show their beauty and the way they lived.
John Warner Smith, executive director of the Shadows-on-the-Teche explained that this exhibit is a reinterpretation of history, and isn’t here to change it.
“It’s a 'Call to the Truth' and tells the full story of the shadows. The history of the lives of all who lived and worked here at this site, The mansion, and at the Weeks family plantation down the road so we are telling the full history, so it's a different experience," Smith said. "Visitors will be invited to engage in some conversation about themes we present as we move from room to room of the house. I think it’ll be quite an enlightening experience."
The Shadows-on-the-Teche closed in October of last year to prepare for this exhibit. in the time since, they hired both Smith as executive director and Adam Foreman as senior manager for interpretation and education, who leads the interpretive work behind the new exhibit. His work on the exhibit started in 2012, and he’s traveled the state, gathering and compiling history.
According to Foreman, the sheer number of stories the Shadows-on-the-Teche has compiled is enough to let their exhibits evolve alongside the community's interests and needs.
“We are uniquely positioned to give our visitors new stories and important stories that need to be preserved. We were really able to bring in a lot of that truth without having to generalize,” Foreman said.
New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt shared his support for the Shadows-on-the-Teche at the ribbon cutting.
“The Shadows has been part of the fabric of our community since 1831. Now those threads are gonna reach out and go even further. The Shadows is an anchor in our downtown. To have national trust property in our community is so rare because there are so few around the country. We need to always remember that and support this place because it is special,” DeCourt said.
Shadows-on-the-Teche visitor center is open Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Aidan Milford is a 22 year-old ULL graduate from Slidell, LA. He is passionate about Louisiana's natural beauty and its preservation. Beyond writing, Aidan enjoys writing music and producing short films.