The State Exhibit Museum Now Comes As A Hardback Book

SHREVEPORT, LA (AP) — Rice, sugarcane, dairy, beef and cotton – all are on display in miniature at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum.

         They're the 1930s dioramas of H.B. Wright, and even the Smithsonian Institution's officials were impressed when they viewed them. And now visitors can take those dioramas home and view them every day.

         No, of course, not physically, but via a new coffee table book, "Louisiana State Exhibit Museum … One of Louisiana's Greatest Resources."

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         The publication is by scholar-in-residence Robert R. Galvan. The photos are by Brian Lewis, of Brian Lewis Photography.

         Some book facts:


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• Cover: Front of the museum showing Muralist Conrad Albrizio's 1938 fresco, and inside, two pages devoted to the fresco.


• Inside: Pages filled with up close photos of the dioramas which depict agricultural, natural resources, technological and industrial areas of Louisiana from 1930 to 1950, said Galvan.

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         Galvan also describes dioramas and tells how they were made.


• Photos: Shreveport photographer Lewis said his job was a labor of love. "I was certainly honored. It was a wonderful project. It was a fabulous thing to work on and I didn't know what to expect," said Lewis, who had seen but never shot the dioramas before.


         "The lighting was the only problem. They are set deep and you cannot access them from the back," Lewis said.

         Since glass had to be removed from his case prior to the shoot, some in three pieces, Lewis couldn't just stop by, but had coordinate efforts with the museum staff. The most difficult was Poverty Point because the glass is so large there was not enough manpower to move it.

         "The light could be seen in the glass, so I had to go the time of day light was not hitting through it."

         Lewis said his favorite dioramas changed as he moved around the circle, and the more he worked, the more he noticed diorama details.

         He was amazed to learn, for instance, "the barbed wire was tied by hand."

         Among other photos of the museum collection in the book: Unique topographical relief map in the Rotunda; Louisiana Salt Dome, Composite Cross Section; historical murals; dramatic photo of the Caddo Culture Dugout, a 1,000-year-old vessel carved from a single Bald Cypress and discovered on the banks of Red River; 1921 Bour-Davis Touring Car.

         Museum Director Wayne Waddell said the Wheless Foundation with Lee Wheless Schmidt — whose father, the late Nick Wheless, loved the museum — and Adelaide and Shelby Smith gave financial support to publish the book.

         "They made the book possible," said Waddell.

         In discussions with Lee Wheless Schmidt, Shelby and Adelaide Smith and Waddell about money to endow and maintain the dioramas, Waddell also discussed the coffee table book idea, said Shelby Smith.

         "We said, 'Great,' we'll do it together," said Shelby, a big museum cheerleader, who once told his friend Secretary of State Tom Schedler what was being done at the museum.

         "I told him we expected the state to finance it in the future," said Shelby, who feels strongly about saving and preserving historical entities in the area.

         For Waddell, the book is something he wanted people to remember the museum by.

         "I wanted a legacy, something people can take with them," Waddell added.

         What: Coffee table book — "Louisiana State Exhibit Museum … One of Louisiana's Greatest Resources."

         Price: $39.99.

         – by AP/ Reporter Maggie Martin with The Times

         For more information




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