New Orleans is more than a celebration and Mardi Gras city – it is a place filled with life, culture, attractions and friendly people. Other than rejoicing in music and dancing, visitors and locals can visit the city’s museums, great places for sharing knowledge and insights about local and global culture. Check out the ten best museums in the city of New Orleans.
On December 16th 1911, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) opened its doors with only nine pieces of art. As years progressed, more artworks were added – NOMA currently holds over 40,000 artworks. The various exhibits include French and American art, photography and glass works, and African and Japanese pieces. The museum is constantly growing, which is why it is considered one of the top art museums in the South. Visitors can explore the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a five-acre sculpture installation that houses over 60 sculptures on a beautiful landscape. Foothills, lagoons, Spanish moss, pines, magnolias, camellias and pedestrian bridges fill the garden. NOMA is committed to preserving and presenting its collections and its sculpture garden and to remain a museum which unites, inspires and engages various cultures.
TripAdvisor rated this museum the number one tourist attraction in New Orleans. Congress considers the museum the official WWII museum of the United States. This popular historical monument is located in Downtown New Orleans and houses exhibits, restoration works, a period dinner theater and restaurants. Established in 2000, the National WWII Museum is an incredible place to experience and learn about World War II and honor the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the world and their country. Visitors can witness the efforts of civilians and the combat experience of soldiers. The museum offers unique exhibits, multimedia experiences, artifacts and first-person oral narratives of the war. The stories cover why the war started, how it was won, and the importance it still has today. Guests can view collections of wartime bombers and aircrafts while touring the museum.
On June 7th 2008 this famous food organization opened its doors at the Riverwalk Marketplace. After realizing it was expanding, the museum relocated to its current address. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, also called SoFab Institute, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the understanding and celebration of the food, drink and culture of the South. This popular tourist attraction hosts special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and tastings that showcase Southern cuisine. SoFab Institute examines the Southern food industry, exploring various cuisines (African-American, Caribbean, French and German), food producers and restaurant businessmen. The museum houses some culinary exhibits: the Museum of the American Cocktail collection, Chef Ryan Hughes’s living exhibit and restaurant and La Galerie d’Absinthe (Absinthe Gallery).
Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM) believes kids learn through hands-on activities. Here children are encouraged to discover the world by observing, inquiring, constructing creatively, role-playing, problem solving and free playing. As they interact with their parents and peers through various educational activities, they can develop their cognitive, social and physical skills. The museum offers reading, math, architectural and grocery shopping activities, which help kids to understand the world in which they live. LCM’s mission is to intellectually develop children, cultivate their relationships and make education enjoyable. Its outreach program includes StarLab, Earth Balloon and Lil’ Stuffee. StarLab teaches kids about constellations and mythology. Earth Balloon teaches geography and environmental conservation. Lil’ Stuffee is a seven-foot-tall walking anatomy lesson, which features blue hair and pillow organs.
General L. Kemper Williams and Leila Hardie Moore Williams founded the Historic New Orleans Collection to showcase their various Louisiana artifacts. This museum, research center and publisher’s aim is to preserve New Orleans’ history and culture. Several historic buildings stand near the institution. Each building houses one million items from over three centuries, documenting major and minor historical events. There are four exhibits: the Williams Gallery, Louisiana History Gallery, Boyd Cruise Gallery and Laura Simon Nelson Gallery for Louisiana Art. Each exhibit reveals New Orleans’ multicultural stories and explores Louisiana’s historical evolution. The publication department has published award-winning books on Louisiana. They also offer an Architecture and Courtyards Tour which explores New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood, the Vieux Carre.
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium encourages visitors to use all five senses as they explore the world of insects. The garden offers more than fifty exhibits and different multimedia elements. This museum is labeled North America’s largest museum dedicated to insects. As tourists explore the place, they will discover why bugs are building blocks of life. While doing this, they will become bug-sized (figuratively) and wander through a Louisiana swamp. After the swamp, visitors will witness the bug awards show, hosted by the bugs, and view the butterfly garden. The butterfly garden is home to hundreds of butterflies and features a fish pond. Butterflies soar from one flower to another and rest on the shoulders of visitors sometimes. The interaction with the gorgeous butterflies will surely leave lasting vivid memories.
In 1999, the Backstreet Cultural Museum became a non-profit organization having gone a long way from its original roots. Sylvester Francis bought a camera and began documenting Carnival celebrations, parades and jazz funerals throughout New Orleans. He displayed his pictures in his two-car garage and word about his display spread, leading to the museum’s construction. The museum holds collections from Mardi Gras Indians, jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs, baby dolls, and skull and bone gangs. Other than housing ancient artifacts, the organization holds dance and music performances and organizes outreach programs. Each year, BCM collaborates with other organizations to share the culture of New Orleans and provides exhibits at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The New Orleans African American Museum (NOAAM) is located in Treme, the oldest surviving African-American community in the United States. The museum’s mission is to preserve and promote African-Americans’ contributions to New Orleans during emancipation, Reconstruction and contemporary times. NOAAM rests on a former plantation and houses seven historical buildings. The Meilleur-Goldwaite House was built in 1829. This is the museum’s main building, a cottage with large windows. Over the years, the house retained its original interior and external surroundings. As visitors tour the museum, they will have an opportunity to explore the history of New Orleans’ African-Americans. Some of the tours explore the St. Augustine church, Creole cottages, Treme artists and musicians and Congo Square, a gathering place.
The 1850 House offers its tourists a glimpse of middle and upper class life in New Orleans. The house’s construction was inspired by Parisian architecture. Art and décor objects adorn the walls and Porcelain China sets rest in cabinets. As visitors walk through the house, they are transported through historical times. Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba was the original owner of the house and she designed and financed the various buildings that surround it. Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, her father, was a Spanish colonial landowner who also helped finance the buildings. In 1921, Pontalba sold the building and it became a museum in 1927. The museum documents the Battle of New Orleans, Civil War sieges, conflagrations, floods, riverboat races and the Hurricane Katrina.
On January 8th 1891 Confederate Memorial Hall opened its doors to the New Orleans’ public. The museum is the oldest and largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the United States. Tourists can embark on a journey through the military history and heritage of the South. CMH highlights the history of the Confederate States of America and covers the American Civil War. Frank T. Howard wrote a letter to the Louisiana Historical Association requesting acknowledgement of the Civil War’s survivors and victims. The hall resembles the city’s Howard Library. There are over 5,000 historical Confederate artifacts, several Civil War items and Confederate uniforms and flags in the museum’s collections.