The Cabildo in Jackson Square

Check Louisiana’s State Museums Off Your Bucket List

The Louisiana State Museum consists of nine unique museums around the state.

The Cabildo

New Orleans

The Cabildo, the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in 1803 and one of Louisiana’s most significant historical buildings, features the three floors of exhibitions covering the history of Louisiana  through 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.

One of Napoleon Bonaparte's death masks - a mold taken from his face after his death in 1821 - is permanently housed on-site. According to the Louisiana State Museum, recent research has revealed that the bronze mask was one of at least nine “death masks” created by Napoleon Bonaparte’s physician, Dr. Francesco Antommarch, since it was customary to make a mask of a person of such importance when they died. When Antommarchi later immigrated to New Orleans, he presented one of the masks to the city in response to the city's "generous sentiments" and "noble welcome." The mask has been displayed in New Orleans since 1834, and more specifically at the Cabildo since 1911.

Visitors can also check out the "From 'Dirty Shirts' to Buccaneers: the Battle of New Orleans in American Culture" exhibit or peruse the works of famed artist, Clementine Hunter.

The Presbytère

New Orleans

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 reflect Louisiana's history of celebration and 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 relays the state's hardships and steps towards redemption through documenting the event, the aftermath and southeast Louisiana’s ongoing recovery. With interactive exhibits and artifacts that showcase the spirit of the city’s residents.

"Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design" commemerates the 150th anniversary of the Rex Organization, New Orleans' first Mardi Gras krewe, founded in 1872. See Louisiana State Museum’s unrivaled collection of artifacts, with displays of sophisticated costumes of past royals, gowns, rare crown jewels and more.

St. Louis Cathedral flanked by The Cabildo and The Presbytere

St. Louis Cathedral flanked by The Cabildo and The Presbytere

Napoleon's Death Mask at the Cabildo in New Orleans

Napoleon's Death Mask at The Cabildo

Capitol Park Museum Mardi Gras Exhibit

Capitol Park Museum Mardi Gras Exhibit

Capitol Park Museum

Capitol Park Museum

Capitol Park Museum

Baton Rouge

The Capitol Park Museum showcases the intricacies of the most vibrant state in America through 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 sugar cane harvester give a glimpse into the state’s aquatic and agricultural assets, while 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 shed a light on the unimaginable circumstances that people of color had to overcome, ultimately contributing 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.

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum

Natchitoches

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 traces the history and importance of sports 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. A Super Bowl XLIV commemorative football signed by all 53 New Orleans Saints after their 2010 victory, the fastest car in the world in 1963—a souped-up Ford Thunderbird, and vintage jerseys and cheerleading uniforms are just a few of the artifacts that make the museum a prime fan experience.

Upstairs, 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.

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest History Museum

Louis Armstrong's Cornet at the New Orleans Jazz Museum

Louis Armstrong's Cornet at the New Orleans Jazz Museum

E. D. White Historic Site photo

E.D. White Historic Site

The New Orleans Jazz Museum

New Orleans

Located at the Old U.S. Mint, The New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates jazz right where it was born. With its prime location at the intersection of the French Quarter and the Frenchman Street live music corridor, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is perfectly placed 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.

E.D. White Historic Site

Thibodaux

The E.D. White Historice Site is a National Historic Landmark situated on the banks of scenic Bayou Lafourche. It was the residence of two of Louisiana’s earliest 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 over time, from the Chitimacha Indians to Acadian settlers, slavery, sugar cane plantations and the White family.

Built around 1825, the E.D. White House was built in a traditional Creole plantation architecture style. 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.

1850 House

New Orleans

Go back in time at the 1850 House and explore mid-19th century daily life of an upper-middle class family in New Orleans. The house is furnished with art and décor that reflect the era, including Old Paris porcelain, New Orleans silver and dozens of notable paintings and furnishings.

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.

1850 House exterior photo

1850 House

Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum

Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum

Madame John's Legacy in the French Quarter

Madame John's Legacy

Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum

Patterson

The Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum highlights two lesser-known, yet quite unique aspects of Louisiana’s history. The Wedell-Williams Aviation Collection preserves the legacy of Louisiana aviation pioneers Jimmie Wedell and Harry P. Williams, who formed an air service together in 1928 in Patterson and became nationally distinguished during the Golden Age of Aviation. State-of-the-art displays include numerous aircraft, and Wedell-Williams’ 1930s air racing trophies and memorabilia, plus an exciting air racing film from the 1932 Cleveland National Air Races.

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, and 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

New Orleans

*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, built in 1788 following a devastating fire that destroyed 80% of the city, was constructed in the French colonial style resurrected from prior to the disaster. Set in an 18th-century building, is considered one of the best examples of French colonial architecture in North America. 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. 

The house’s name was inspired by George Washington Cable’s 1874 short story “‘Tite Poulette,” in which the character Monsieur John bequeaths a Dumaine Street house to his mistress, known as Madame John.