Exploring New Orleans’ history through local museums

Cori Shalit, Arcade Editor

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When we think of New Orleans, unique festivities and food quickly come to mind, so it may be easy at times to overlook the significance of the rich history and traditions that also characterize the city. 

New Orleans is a city well-known for keeping its history alive and accessible. You can see it in the streets, the shops, the buildings and anywhere else your eye might wander. There is so much to learn about the Big Easy, and countless museums bursting with awesome information in the area are yearning for students to explore them.

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The New Orleans Museum of Art 

NOMA is New Orleans’ oldest fine arts institution. It dates back to 1911 when it first opened with just nine works of art. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For university students, entrance is $8. If you are 19 or younger, however, entrance is free until the end of 2019 with a Teen Pass that you can pick up at the front desk or online. Additionally, entrance is free on Wednesdays for Louisiana residents.

NOMA is also home to the 11-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which surrounds two lagoons. The Garden is open every day of the week with no entrance fee

New Orleans Jazz Museum 

“Jazz in the very place it was born,” reads the New Orleans Jazz Musuem’s slogan. The museum is housed in the historic Old U.S. Mint and prides itself on exploring the intricacies of jazz. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, the museum charges students a $6 entrance fee.

The Presbytère

This historic is a museum housing two permanent exhibits, “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana” and “The Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond,” in a building from dating to the 1700s. The Mardi Gras exhibit hosts parade floats, costumes, throws and information on the secretive social clubs that were the origin of modern-day Mardi Gras krewes. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and students pay $6 to enter.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art 

Housed in the Warehouse Arts District, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art displays the largest collection of Southern art. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, the museum charges students $11 to enter. If you’re a Louisiana resident, though, entrance is free on Thursdays!

The National WWII Museum 

The National WWII Museum is the country’s official WWII museum. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the museum goes into depth on “the war that changed the world.” With your Splash Card, entrance is $18.

The Cabildo

You may have noticed the Cabildo, the large Spanish colonial building in Jackson Square. Built in the late 1700s, the Cabildo served as the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in 1803. Housing many rare artifacts, the museum is open on Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and charges students an $8 entrance.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum and research center dedicated to preserving the culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The Collection offers free exhibitions and tours to the public. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

At the site of the apothecary of America’s first licensed pharmacist, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum presents the history of pharmacy and healthcare in Louisiana. Entrance is $4, and the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours run at 1 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and are included with admission. Expect to learn about Voodoo potions, bloodletting and other questionable medical practices. 

Museum of Death

Those interested in exploring the darker side of New Orleans should look into the Museum of Death. The museum was founded in California but opened a second branch in New Orleans in 2015. Exhibits include a skull collection, prison letters from serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and gruesome crime scene photos. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. Admission is $15 dollars. 

Food, drinks and festivals are one way to get to know New Orleans. Museums can, however, provide valuable insight into the different cultural and historical enclaves that make up the city. Whether your interest lies in Mardi Gras floats or the history of healthcare in Louisiana, New Orleans has a museum for you.