Built in 1799 as the seat of Spanish colonial rule in New Orleans, the Cabildo has a long and rich history.
Designed by Gilberto Guillemard, who also designed the Presbytère, the Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803, which finalized the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and doubled the size of the fledgling nation. Through the years it has served as a city hall, a courthouse, a prison and, since 1911, the flagship home of the Louisiana State Museum.
Visitors today can explore 200 years of Louisiana history, art and culture on three floors of exhibits. Highlights include Napoleon’s death mask, one of only four in existence. It was made from a mold crafted by Dr. Francesco Antommarchi, who was one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s physicians at the time of his death. Using a variety of artifacts, images and documents, the Battle of New Orleans exhibition opens with an exploration of the battle’s history, emphasizing the diversity of its participants and closes with an investigation of how the battle has been remembered, commemorated and represented. The museum includes Native American artifacts, a collection of magnificent 18th and 19th century Louisiana portraits and special displays on the Civil War and Reconstruction and the many diverse peoples that flavor Louisiana’s unique cultural gumbo. For more information, visit LouisianaStateMuseum.org.