As one of the few Spanish settlements in an otherwise predominantly French part of Louisiana, New Iberia’s history with the Iberian peninsula goes far beyond just its namesake.
A new exhibit at the Bayou Teche Museum titled “Spanish Influences on the Teche Area” tells the story of New Iberia settlers who not many residents may realize had a significant influence on the character of the community.
“We are trying to place emphasis on how both the Acadians and the Spanish settlers are so important to our culture,” museum director Tasha Dugas said.
The exhibit features a large painting of Francisco Bouligny by local artist Charlee Harrington. Bouligny was a Spanish explorer from Malaga, Spain, who first settled along the Bayou Teche in 1779.
The exhibit also includes primary documents from Bouligny, including letters and legal papers on the formation of the city.
There is also an interactive element of the presentation, which is a three-minute video explaining the ties between Spain and the current culture of New Iberia.
Narrated by Gladys Chapman in both English and Spanish, the video describes the Spanish influence on 21st century life, including how the food dish jambalaya came about.
The piece explains how jambalaya is very similar to the Spanish dish “paella,” which consists of local seafood, rice and other spices. Dugas said she hopes residents and visitors alike will be able to use the new exhibit to learn about a piece of New Iberia history that often is overlooked.
“We are just always trying to keep the museum fresh and interesting,” Dugas said.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.