Check Louisiana’s State Museums Off Your Bucket List
The Louisiana State Museum consists of nine unique museums around the state.
The Louisiana State Museum consists of nine unique museums around the state.
Visit the Cabildo, the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in 1803 and one of Louisiana’s most significant historical buildings. The three floors of Cabildo exhibitions cover the history of Louisiana by featuring artifacts such as documents, paintings and 3D objects from the museum’s vast collection.
The Cabildo neighbors St. Louis Cathedral in the iconic French Quarter and houses many rare artifacts of America’s history. The building was transferred to the Louisiana State Museum in 1908 and has since served to educate the public about Louisiana history.
The Presbytère was designed in 1791 to match the Cabildo, on the opposite side of St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. In 1911, it became part of the Louisiana State Museum. The Presbytère’s two permanent exhibits tell two sides of the ongoing Louisiana story—one of celebration and one of resilience.
“Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana” features parade floats, costumes and historical throws as well as rare glimpses into the secretive social club society from which modern-day Mardi Gras krewes evolved.
“The Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond” exhibit tells of rescue, rebuilding and renewal. The exhibit documents the event, the aftermath and southeast Louisiana’s ongoing recovery. With interactive exhibits and artifacts that showcase the spirit of the city’s residents, this is a collection you don’t want to miss.
The Capitol Park Museum showcases the intricacies of the most vibrant state in America. With thematic exhibits on Louisiana’s history, industry and culture, the museum includes two permanent exhibits: “Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation” and “Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America.”
A 48-foot wooden shrimp trawler and a two-row sugar cane harvester reveal the state’s aquatic and agricultural riches. An oil-well head and a scale model of a drilling are an example of Louisiana’s energy industry. Exhibits on slave markets, resistance, revolt and Jim Crow provide a glimpse into the unimaginable plight of people of color who, in the face of overwhelming hardship, contributed incalculably to the cultural fabric of the state. And learn more about the state’s iconic music history, featuring Pete Fountain’s clarinet, Buddy Guy’s polka dot Stratocaster guitar, Clifton Chenier’s Grammy award and an expansive Louis Armstrong exhibit.
St. Louis Cathedral flanked by The Cabildo and The Presbytere
Capitol Park Museum Mardi Gras Exhibit
Capitol Park Museum
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum was named the Top Architecture Project in the World in 2013 by Azure magazine, beating other major projects in London and Paris, and has won a number of other architectural accolades.
The Sports Hall of Fame trace the history of Louisiana sports and highlight the importance of sports to life in Louisiana. The museum features household-name inductees, such as Archie Manning, and Shaquille O’Neal, plus other notable athletes like New Orleans-born Audrey “Mickey” Patterson, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic medal. Pete Maravich’s scrapbook of his years as one of the greatest basketball players to step onto a court, a Super Bowl XLIV commemorative football signed by all 53 New Orleans Saints after their 2010 victory and the fastest car in the world in 1963—a souped-up Ford Thunderbird—are just a few of the artifacts that make the museum an up-close, personal and unforgettable fan experience.
The Northwest Louisiana History Museum tells the story of how diverse groups of people—Caddo Indians, French and Spanish settlers, free and enslaved Africans and rural southern whites—created the region’s distinctive culture. With displays of artifacts dating from the 1700s, this museum celebrates the explorers, artists, writers, entrepreneurs and human rights leaders who embodied northwest Louisiana’s resilient spirit.
Located at the Old U.S. Mint, The New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates jazz right where it was born. Strategically located at the intersection of the French Quarter and the Frenchman Street live music corridor, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is in the heart of the city’s vibrant music scene.
New Orleans Jazz Museum promotes the global understanding of jazz as one of the most innovative, historically pivotal musical art forms in world history through dynamic interactive exhibitions, educational programming and engaging musical performances.
This National Historic Landmark, situated on the banks of scenic Bayou Lafourche, was the residence of two of Louisiana’s foremost political figures: Edward Douglas White, who was governor from 1835 to 1839, and his son, Edward Douglass White, who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1894 and served as chief justice from 1910 to 1921. An exhibit in this historic home tells the story of the Bayou Lafourche area, with features on the Chitimacha Indians, Acadian settlers, slavery, sugar cane plantations and the White family.
Built around 1825, the E.D. White House is an excellent example of traditional Creole plantation architecture. Among the younger White’s possessions on display are his law books, a chair he used while serving as chief justice and a 19th-century steamer trunk.
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest History Museum
Louis Armstrong's Cornet at the New Orleans Jazz Museum
E.D. White Historic Site
Go back in time at The 1850 House and explore mid-19th century daily life in New Orleans. The house is furnished with art and décor that speak to the era, including Old Paris porcelain, New Orleans silver and dozens of notable paintings and furnishings that transport you back in time.
The 1850 House is part of the Lower Pontalba building, designed and financed by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba. Her father, Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas, was a Spanish colonial landowner who helped finance The Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral and The Presbytère.
The dual focus of this museum site highlights two very distinct—and compelling—aspects of Louisiana’s rich history. The Wedell-Williams Aviation Collection highlights the legacy of Louisiana aviation pioneers Jimmie Wedell and Harry P. Williams, who formed an air service together in 1928 in Patterson. Both men became nationally prominent during the Golden Age of Aviation. State-of-the-art displays include numerous aircraft, and Wedell-Williams’ 1930s air racing trophies and memorabilia.
The Cypress Sawmill Collection documents the history of the cypress lumber industry in Louisiana. Patterson was once home to the largest cypress sawmill in the world. In 1997, the Louisiana State Legislature designated Patterson as the cypress capital of Louisiana. The exhibit features a variety of artifacts, photographs and film that tell the story of this important regional industry.
*Madame John's Legacy is currently closed while careful and important work is being done to preserve this most historic building.
Madame John’s Legacy is one of the finest 18th-century building complexes in Louisiana and one of the best examples of French colonial architecture in North America. Built in 1788 following a devastating fire that destroyed 80% of the city, it was constructed in the French colonial style that prevailed before the disaster.
Madame John’s is an excellent example of Louisiana-Creole 18th century residential design. Due to its fine architectural character and historical significance, it is an official National Historic Landmark. The complex consists of three buildings—the main house, a kitchen with cook’s quarters, and a two-story dependency.
Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum
Madame John's Legacy