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 and is a museum dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. Elizabeth 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. Visitors 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. Check out the New Orleans Prohibition Raids 1919-1933 exhibit to learn the Prohibition Era in the city. 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. After exploring the ancients, try out some space exploration in the Solar System gallery where interactive stations show Hubble telescope imagery. A new addition to the Solar System exhibit is a 65-million-year-old, 1,500-pound Triceratops skull. And don't miss their continually rotating special exhibits. 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 and some still work at the museum. Admission to the museum and grounds is free and there is also a 9-stop driving audio tour through the Carville Historic District. Read about a recent trip to the museum or visit their website for hour information.
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. In the state-of-the-art IMAX 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.
Take the kids to the POP. Sci-Port began construction in May 2016 on Power of Play (POP), a children's museum within the center. POP, geared for ages 8 and under, is a hands-on museum that is a kid’s-sized version of Shreveport-Bossier City. Guests can visit community spots, such as University Health hospital, Brookshire’s grocery store and a recreation of Shreveport’s own duck pond. And, 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.