Louisiana Division/City Archives   New Orleans Public Library

Image of the Month
November 2010

Isador Lazarus first planned to open a historical wax museum in the former Orleans Ballroom, then--in 1961--part of the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family at 717 Orleans Street. Preservationists and Vieux Carre residents protested against the proposal and the Sisters decided to take the property off the market (several years later, though, they did sell it to developers who eventually built what is now the Bourbon-Orleans Hotel). Lazarus and his associates resurrected the museum idea, at a new location, shortly thereafter. The new site, a parking garage in the 900 block of Conti Street, had no historical significance, and the plan had little trouble gaining approval from the Vieux Carre Commission.

Following renovation of the garage structure and the fabrication (in Paris) of the wax figures, the museum, to be known as Musée Conti, was ready to open on March 8, 1964. Unfortunately, some late-arriving pieces were still going through Customs on that date, so the opening had to be rescheduled for March 14. It has been in operation ever since.

This month's image shows a large group of school children standing in front of the Musée Conti, waiting for more of their classmates to disembark from the school buses that had carried them to the French Quarter. Jack Beech of Industrial Photography took the photograph, probably shortly after the wax museum opened.

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