Louisiana has created many opportunities to preserve the stories of the past with museums and historical sites around the state. However, trying to visit all of our museums could take much longer than your average trip. Here is a quick guide to a few that house some rare or interesting exhibits and artifacts.
SoFAB opened its doors in 2008 on beautiful riverfront property behind the New Orleans Convention Center. Liz Williams, president and director of the museum, led the founding efforts. “It was amazing that this museum didn’t already exist,” she says. “Food is so important to the culture of this city.” At the museum, you’ll learn the story of the po-boy, crawfish, beignets, gumbo and the famous Sazerac cocktail. Unique exhibits include La Galerie d’Absinthe, an entire gallery devoted to the drink, Absinthe. Discover why Absinthe was banned in the U.S. for a time and why it is referred to as the “green fairy.” Raymond and B.J. Bordelon loaned their extensive collection of Absinthe artifacts including absinthe spoons, absinthe cocktail recipes, and absinthe fountains. Also enjoy the Museum of the American Cocktail located inside SoFAB to explore the diverse array of cocktails and their role in society and American life. Try to make it for one of the events and seminars, known for delectably showcasing different drinks. Read more about the museum or visit their website for ticket information and hours.
The Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge holds an impressive collection of over 3,000 artworks and artifacts along with a planetarium and entire galleries devoted to the solar system and the universe. From collections of ancient artifacts of the Greeks and Egyptians to the contemporary photography and artwork of Louisiana artists, the LASM holds a world’s worth of diversity. Special exhibits include the Antiquities Selection reflecting the interrelationship of Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and is on permanent display in the Ancient Egypt Gallery. Also discover the artistic side of Louisiana with the Louisiana Modern and Contemporary collection that represents a range of styles and media from Louisiana artists including Michael Crespo, Frank Hayden, Richard Johnson, Elmore Morgan Jr., Arthur Silverman, Ed Whiteman, and others. Visit their website for current exhibit, ticket and hour information.
Located in Carville, Louisiana just outside Baton Rouge, in this overlooked, unassuming location, hundreds of the nation’s leprosy (Hansen’s disease) patients were banished from society, sent to live in the shadow of their disease while praying for a cure. In 1999, the complex became a National museum to remember the story of Hansen’s disease. Visit the beautiful self-sustaining complex and take a tour to discover what life was like for these patients of this rare disease. A unique aspect of this museum is some of the patients who had lived much of their lives at this center have stayed. Eighty-four-year-old Simeon Peterson, “Mr. Pete,” serves as the museum’s ambassador. Mr. Pete can be found every afternoon in the museum, weaving colorful tales of his 61 years at the Leprosarium. Read about a recent trip to the museum or visit their website .
The Tunica-Biloxi Museum opened in 1989 to house the “Tunica Treasure” which contains Indian tribal grave goods that were stolen from the original burial ground by a grave robber in the late 1960s. In 2011, the entire site had a massive upgrade to become a 40,000-square-foot museum housing 200,000 artifacts that are considered to be the best physical evidence of the interrelationship between the Tunica and French during the Colonial period. Special artifacts in the exhibit are the original bowls, jars and plates that the Tunica Indians used along with trading goods that the French gave to the Tunica in exchange for horses and salt: glass beads, bowls, plates, cooking utensils, tools and guns. Visit the website for more information.
Step into a world of Mardi Gras when you enter this museum which holds more Mardi Gras costumes in one place than anywhere in the world! Learn about the history of Mardi Gras as you walk through the halls with towering and glittering costumes. View how to make a King Cake, as well as the intricacies of costume making. There is even a float that patrons can climb aboard. A special feature of the Mardi Gras museum is the animated mannequins wearing brilliant costumes. You can get a real sense of how big and extravagant some of these costumes are! This museum will inspire you to experience a Mardi Gras celebration in Lake Charles. For more information visit the Mardi Gras website or discover other Mardi Gras museums in Louisiana.
The Sci-Port Museum is located in beautiful downtown Shreveport. It’s a massive 92,000-square-foot center with a mission to provide hands-on learning experiences in a fun, educational environment where science can be explored. It features more than 290 science, space science, technology and math exhibits along with an IMAX theatre and planetarium. The interactive galleries like the Red River Gallery teach kids about the ecosystems of the river while viewing turtles and snakes that are local to the area. In the state-of-the-art Sawyer Space Dome planetarium view what the stars looked like on the day of your birthday or catch a live presentation about the wonders of the galaxy. Don't miss the traveling exhibits, you might not get a chance to see them again! Learn more about Sci-Port Louisiana's Science Center.