NEW ORLEANS — While many uncovered time capsules remind people of a bygone era, one found underneath a Confederate statue in New Orleans revisits a time some may want to forget.
Curators at the Louisiana State Museum on Friday unveiled the contents of a copper box found underneath the base of the statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard.
The equestrian statue of Beauregard was taken down by a crane more than a year ago after a contentious public battle. The time capsule was found on July 25, after the base of the statue was removed.
The time capsule contained Confederate memorabilia including photos of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with flags, currency, medals, ribbons and other paper items related the city.
Many of the contents were damaged by weather and time, but some were in surprisingly good condition. Museum curators said they had to dehumidify some of the items to separate them for display.
“We can’t forget history. We can’t change it. We have to learn from it and move forward. Hopefully this does not dig up any bad blood,” Louisiana’s Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told WDSU during the unveiling.
The box was placed in the statue’s pedestal on November 14, 1913, a year before the landmark honoring Louisiana’s Civil War general was erected outside New Orleans City Park, officials told WDSU.
“To be able to reveal what’s inside is very exciting and hopefully the museum will be able to present it and contextualize it in an interesting fashion,” Louisiana State Museum interim director Steven Maklansy said.
A monument preservation group that filed a lawsuit to keep the Beauregard statue in place, the Monumental Task Committee, told CNN it hopes the artifacts are preserved and displayed in “a respectful manner honoring those who worked hard to share a part of New Orleans’ history with future generations.”