French Quarter offers museum must-sees

December 8, 2016

Staying within the “Tulane bubble” and forgetting to explore this incredible city proves a common problem among students. Venturing outside the boundaries of campus is a step in the right direction, but it’s easy to get sucked into Frenchman Street, Bourbon bars, and the usual Tulane hotspots. The city’s rich art culture offers a multitude of amazing museums and historical sites that students should not ignore.

The Cabildo is a must-see in the French Quarter, which is right off of Jackson Square on Chartres Street. Currently, while the facade is under construction, the museum remains open. History buffs might be interested to note that the Louisiana Purchase was signed there, and the museum houses three floors filled with artifacts from precolonial times into the late 1800s. Admittance is $5 for students, which allows full access to the museum. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The greatest feature of the museum is that each floor offers different interactive items in addition to artifacts, going beyond simply reading plaques. On the second floor, visitors are encouraged to play the colonial drum, and a great photo op immersing themselves into a wartime painting.

The grand wooden staircases between floors are lined with portraits, and the museum has a simple layout. From start to finish, The Cabildo feels like taking an authentic walk through Louisiana’s past.

A stroll through Jackson Square across the street from The Cabildo offers a peek into the historic St. Louis Cathedral next door, and easy access for a quick stop at Café du Monde. The St. Louis Cathedral is open to the public regardless of religious affiliation and offers beautiful stained glass windows.

With beignets in hand, head toward the French Market on North Peters Street. At the end of the French Market is the Old U.S. Mint, which has no charge for admittance.

The first floor of the building is dedicated to the Mint and features coins of different eras, coin pressing machines and the various manufacturing machines used. The second floor houses exhibits, one being the New Orleans Jazz Museum, which features instruments and objects from New Orleans native Louis Armstrong.

All of these exhibits are parent-friendly and an incredible way to spend an afternoon downtown. The vibrant art scene of the city rivals its party scene, so take some time to explore the museums only a streetcar ride away from campus.

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