Ambrose Thibodeaux, Lafayette, 1982

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Smithsonian Institution

In 2010 I donated 64 of my Cajun portraits to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C..

The Curator of Photography, David Haberstich, wrote an article about that on the website of the Smithsonian, which you can read below.


Dutch photographer Emile Waagenaar, an enthusiastic aficionado of Cajun music, is so passionate about the subject that he has traveled frequently from Breda in the Netherlands to Louisiana over nearly thirty years to photograph Cajun musicians.  About two years ago I became aware of his fascinating pictures, and he offered to donate a number to the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center.  He visited the Archives Center, and later I met him and his wife in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.  He donated 64 digital prints of his fascinating photographs to us.

Mr. Waagenaar, a commercial photographer in the Netherlands, loves Cajun music so much that he began a self-assigned project to document Cajun musicians in 1982, photographing artists who play this regional style in New Orleans and elsewhere in Louisiana, Texas, and elsewhere.  Over the years he has made many trips to the United States in order to seek out, befriend, and photograph Cajun musicians in their homes, businesses, and concert environments.  Since he fears that this music is at risk of disappearing as older musicians die and other popular music styles attract audiences away from traditional forms and styles, he has a missionary spirit with this project. He hopes not only to preserve visual records of some of the most important musicians and their environments, but to engender interest in Cajun music on the part of those who view his photographs.  Through his dedicated, sensitive efforts, he is performing an important cultural and historical service.

The complete version of this article click here.