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Carnival v. Carnival: NOMA’s new exhibition compares Venice to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Pageantry, ceremony and festivities. Life in Venice in the 18th century sounds a lot like life in present-day New Orleans.

"There are a range of parallels for both Venice and New Orleans being port cities, water, being an important feature in our life and you mentioned carnival," says New Orleans Museum of Art curator Vanessa Schmid.

And while we celebrate Fat Tuesday, the Venetians celebrated Fat Thursday. It’s an extended carnival season that welcomed travelers from across Europe.

"Carnival was an incredibly evocative time. A lot of people got dressed up, wore masks, which we also still do," says Schmid.

The aptly named New Orleans Museum of Art exhibition, "A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700's,” is the only venue in the United States where you can come to view these pieces.

There are exquisite paintings showcasing the festivities during carnival and the famous waterways and gondolas for which Venice is known.

"There's this wonderful temporary construction, a spectacular tower that comes out and they bring it out every year and at the end of the day fireworks are coming from it," says Schmid.

There's also a historic dress on display. A glass case showcases a woman's white dress quilted with fine embroidery and a man's tailcoat with impressive colors and detailing.

"The real treasure are these women's shoes, these clogs that women weren't really going to wear. They're basically platform shoes," Schmid says.

But those shoes were more for show than functionality, carefully constructed out of wood with bone inlay and complex motifs that the Muses of today, who are known for their beautiful and bizarre creations, might take into consideration as carnival season and Mardi Gras continues to evolve.