NOAA 2007-R428
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Exhibit Opening Today at Port of New Orleans' Administration Building

Every day, cruise ships sail from New Orleans; coal ships deliver to power plants along the shores of the Great Lakes; crabbing boats harvest Alaskan king crab in the Bering Sea; and weekenders prepare their boats for leisurely afternoons on the Lake Pontchartrain. Each one of these mariners uses the resources of NOAA’s Navigation Services to safely navigate U.S. coastal waters.

In recognition of the landmark 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Survey of the Coast, NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service have created the exhibit, “From Sea to Shining Sea: 200 Years of Charting America’s Coasts,” which opens July 26 at the Port of New Orleans administration building, one of over 200 venues nationwide where the exhibit will be seen this year.

Central to the New Orleans exhibit is an engraved copper map plate that was created in 1862 that is on loan to the Port from NOAA for a period of five years. The plate was used to print the first navigational charts of the approaches to New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico.

Additionally, the exhibit will feature photographs from the Port of New Orleans archives of maritime activity in New Orleans from past and present called “A Legacy of Commerce: Images of the Port of New Orleans.” The exhibit includes the work of Charles Franck, a renowned New Orleans photographer who worked for the Port from 1900 to 1930. Those images of the Port’s maritime history contrast with modern ship operations captured by the Port’s current photographer, Donn Young.

The exhibit will be located in the lobby of the Port Administration Building at 1350 Port of New Orleans Place, directly behind the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It is free and available for viewing weekdays during normal business hours. The exhibit will open on July 26th during a short reception following the 10:30 a.m. meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

"The Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River corridor is a great example of ports and waterways serving this nation and supporting the national economy." said John H. Dunnigan, assistant administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service.

"The history of NOAA's charting and navigation mission is as historic as the Port of New Orleans." said Gary Lagrange, executive director of the Port of New Orleans. "Having the exhibit here is significant in showing how we, as one of the world's largest ports, have a huge impact on the nation's economy and it's access to world markets."

As the world's largest port area and with hundreds of thousands of jobs tied to the Port of New Orleans and associated port areas of the Mississippi River, the exhibit of NOAA's 200th years of service highlights the development and work to create and maintain NOAA's wide range of navigation charts and products and services.

The exhibit includes an education component, featuring a variety of educational materials and activities to help teachers, students, and parents learn about our ocean, coasts, and skies. These resources cover many aspects of NOAA’s ocean stewardship, such as deep sea corals and coral reefs, ocean expeditions, and geodesy—the science of measuring and monitoring the size and shape of the Earth and the location of points on its surface. The lesson plans, available at the NOAA 200th Celebration education Web pages,, adhere to national science education standards and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Benchmarks for Science Literacy.

In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson recognized the need to chart the coastal waters of this country as vital to the independence and prosperity of the economy and to the security of this fledgling nation. With his foresight, Jefferson compelled Congress to pass an act establishing the Survey of the Coast, a predecessor agency of today’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Survey of the Coast charted the nation’s ports and waterways, researched physical characteristics of the ocean bottom, and explored many of the world’s oceans. The organization was known for a tradition of perseverance, scientific integrity, engraving and charting skills, and courage.

This exhibit, which will be shown in maritime museums, ports, aquaria, nature centers, schools, libraries and lighthouses, celebrates the history, accomplishments and scientific contributions of the nation’s first science agency. The 20 colorful posters are illustrated with photos, charts and artwork from the Survey’s archives.

“This year we are proud to be holding a year-long celebration of 200 years of science, service, and stewardship to the nation originating with the Survey of the Coast,” said Captain Steven R. Barnum, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, which is one of the four offices that continues to carry out the original agency's mission. “We are honored that our partnership with the Smithsonian Institution has produced this vibrant depiction of our history to help us commemorate this distinguished occasion.”

Today, waterborne commerce remains the backbone of the U.S. economy, contributing approximately 13 million jobs and $1 trillion annually. In the past two centuries, the Survey has mapped more than 95,000 miles of coastline, produced more than 20,000 nautical maps and charts, installed more than 6,000 tide stations, helped predict the movement of oil spills, established the Pacific Tsunami Warning System and maintained the national network of more than 1,000 GPS reference sites. Though the methods have changed throughout time, Jefferson’s legacy lives on in NOAA’s navigation services as they continue to benefit safety, national security and economic competitiveness.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870’s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

The Port of New Orleans is a leading entry point for steel, rubber, forest products, non-ferrous metals and coffee entering the United States. The Port serves inland markets in the American heartland because it is connected to 14,500 miles of inland waterways via the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Additionally, connections to six class one railroads provide addition avenues for getting cargo to and from the Port.

On the Web:


NOAA 200th:

SITES exhibition and schedules:

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Port of New Orleans: