Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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New Orleans is a popular tourist destination, but while most people know about the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations and unique culture, not many know that NOLA has some world-class museums.
Whether you’re interested in learning about the local history or would prefer to spend your time admiring art, there’s a New Orleans exhibit or gallery that belongs on your travel bucket list.
Opened in 2008 in collaboration with the aquarium, the Audubon Insectarium is an award-winning etymology center.
The museum has over 50 different exhibits housing live insect specimens. In addition to these habitats, the institute has a wide selection of educational displays. These include photos, illustrations, models, and videos. Altogether, these exhibits create one of the largest insect museums in the country.
Some of the most popular wings of the museum are the butterfly garden, the honeybee exhibit, and the on-site ant colony. Each exhibition lets visitors see the complex inner workings of how the insects live.
The museum even has a special department, “Bug Appétit,” that shows how bugs are used in cooking around the world. Brave visitors can try a few of these dishes for themselves. Audubon Insectarium hosts events throughout the year that allow the public to get up close to some of the insects.
Admission is free for members and children under 2 and varies between $25 and $30 for children 2 to 12 and seniors 65+ and between $30 and $35 for adults. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is St. Charles at Tulane/Loyola.
Built during the 1800s, the Hermann-Grima House is a restored house museum that allows visitors to see what a typical French Quarter home would have looked like in the 19th century.
Not only is the museum historic due to its age and period-accurate furnishings, but it’s also one-of-a-kind in New Orleans itself. Today, it’s the only house in the neighborhood with an open-hearth kitchen and is the only building in the area with its original 19th-century stables.
The home is adorned with 4 different decor styles to represent the personal styles most often found in residences between the 1800s and the 1900s.
American Empire, Pillar and Scroll, Restoration French Empire, and Rococo Revival themes can be seen in the building’s exterior and interior decor. The museum houses personal items that belonged to the Hermann and Grima families, who once used the home as their private residences.
Admission is free for children under 8, $14 for children 8 to 18, students, seniors 65+, and military personnel, and $17 for adults. The museum is open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is Carondelet and Canal.
The Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC) is entirely dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast. First opened in the 1960s, the museum initially acted as a research center before later opening to the public.
The site’s collection comprises hundreds of thousands of pieces ranging from books and photos to paintings and historical artifacts. Though only a fraction of these pieces are on display at any given time, the others are available to view for research purposes.
The museum has grown so large that the collection is spread across several buildings in the city, many of which were once residences, like the Merieult House and the Williams Residence. The facility’s size allows it to house rotating exhibits that delve deeper into particular periods of history, like the War of 1812, or local figures, like Tennessee Williams.
Admission is free for all guests, but reservations are required before visiting. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is Toulouse.
Since it first opened, the Louisiana Children’s Museum has helped kids learn about the world and foster their creativity. The facility is aimed primarily at young kids under 8, but visitors of all ages are welcome to explore, and it’s a beloved place for families to spend the day.
The museum is broadly divided into 7 sections, each covering a different topic or type of experience through its immersive sets and exhibits. For example, “Follow that Food” has mock restaurant and supermarket sets to teach kids about cooking and how ingredients are sourced and used.
The site even has several outdoor exhibits, like the “Music Hummock” and “Eye Spy Stations,” to let kids learn and have fun while in the fresh air. However, these sets may close early or not open at all on days when the weather is unfavorable.
Admission is free for children under 12 months, $14 for seniors and active military personnel, and $18 for visitors over a year old. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Magazine and Julia.
Founded in 2011, the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum is an ever-changing museum that showcases and celebrates the culture and history of this NOLA neighborhood.
Using artifacts from locals, interviews, documents, and more, the museum is able to give visitors a tour through some of the most important periods in the Ninth Ward’s evolution. One of the museum’s missions is to empower the local community who makes the neighborhood the vibrant place it is today.
In addition to the facility’s exhibits, which look at the personal stories of residents and the effects of important events, it hosts a series of events throughout the year. These events range from community outreach programs and fundraisers to educational lectures and panels.
The museum is a historical society of sorts and works to preserve historic buildings in the area. It actively collects items relevant to local stories.
Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The nearest bus stop is North Claiborne at Tennessee.
Since it first opened, Mardi Gras World has allowed visitors to experience the city’s most famous festival no matter the time of year. The museum is spread over 300,000 square feet of space to accommodate the large size of its exhibits. These primarily consist of floats and other decorations used in the Mardi Gras festivities.
The museum also serves as the workshop where many parade floats are made. Depending on when you visit, it’s possible to get a sneak peek at what will be featured in the upcoming parades and view favorites from past years.
In addition to the main exhibits, which can be seen alone or with a tour guide, the facility hosts various events throughout the year. The space even hosts team-building activities and can be rented for private conferences, parties, or other occasions.
Admission is free for children under 2, $14 for kids 2 to 12, $17 for students, seniors, and military personnel, and $22 for everyone else. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Magazine at Terpsichore.
Since its opening, the McKenna Museum of African-American Art has been NOLA’s premier spot for the preservation and celebration of art created by African-American artists and those who are part of the African Diaspora. Though the museum collects and showcases work from artists around the country and even around the world, the facility’s board prioritizes uplifting local Louisiana artists.
The museum centers around fine art, but the specific styles of the pieces housed and displayed on the premises vary from portraits to modern art. The collection’s diversity allows the museum to better capture the cultures and voices of the artists.
Though the museum has a collection of its own, it also hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year using pieces from the archives and collections on loan from other facilities. The museum can be visited alone or with a guide who can answer virtually any question about the pieces.
Admission starts at $13 for children and $16 for adults. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is St. Charles at St. Andrew.
Housing over 200,000 artifacts ranging from medals to photos, the National WWII Museum gives visitors a comprehensive look at the Second World War. Notably, the museum covers both before and after the involvement of the U.S. as an Allied force.
The museum officially opened to the public in 2000, on the anniversary of the D-Day landing, and has since become a Smithsonian affiliate. The National WWII Museum is divided into 6 main categories, each covering a broad topic about the war, from the effects and battles in Europe to the weapons used by the Allies.
A few of the highlighted historical items on display are an Enigma machine for decoding messages, a Sherman tank, and a Spitfire fighter plane. In addition to the traditional displays, the museum utilizes multimedia exhibits and interactive elements to create a more immersive and educational experience for all visitors.
Admission is free for members, children under 5, and WWII veterans, $20 for visitors with disabilities, students kindergarten through university, and military personnel, $27.50 for seniors 65+, and $32.50 for adults. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is St. Charles and St. Joseph.
Located in what was once the New Orleans Mint, the New Orleans Jazz Museum aims to educate the public and celebrate jazz and its impact on the city’s culture. Housing over 25,000 items, from flyers and photos to instruments, it’s able to paint a thorough picture of NOLA’s jazz scene throughout history.
The facility isn’t purely a museum space, though. It also hosts hundreds of concerts each year. While most of these are jazz, other musical genres are also represented in these performances. The museum additionally acts as an education and research center.
Due to the museum’s location, it’s divided into 2 broad topics. The main exhibits focus on jazz and the music industry. However, the other dives into the building’s roots, centering around money and the mint process. Though these themes may seem quite different, the museum can weave them together seamlessly.
Admission is free for children under 7 and school groups, $6 for students, seniors, and military personnel, and $8 for adults. Discounts are available for groups and AAA members. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is French Market.
Home to over 40,000 works of art, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is one of the most important art centers in the city. It opened in 1911, which makes it New Orleans’ oldest art museum.
There are indoor and outdoor exhibits, with the latter including the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, housing over 90 modern sculptures. The New Orleans Museum of Art aims to create a comprehensive timeline of art history by collecting pieces from around the world and various time periods. Today, over 5,000 years of art and culture are represented on the premises.
The museum’s collection can be broadly divided into 11 medium categories ranging from ancient pre-Columbian pieces to contemporary photography. Some of the highlighted works of art in the collection are “Guardian Angels” by Dorothea Tanning, “Stand up Straight and Tall” by George Rodriguez, and “Tree of Necklaces” by Jean-Michel Othoniel.
General admission is free for members and children, $8 for university students, $10 for military personnel and seniors 65+, and $15 for adults. Fees are waived for Louisiana residents on Wednesdays. Special exhibits typically require an additional ticket.
The museum is open Thursday to Sunday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is Museum of Art.
Housing over 4,000 works of art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is a major center for preserving and showcasing Southern U.S. artists. For representation in the museum, an artist has to be from or at least associated with one of the 15 states considered the South.
Originally, the museum consisted of the private collection of its founder, Roger H. Ogden. Over the years, it’s grown to include more artists, mediums, and pieces. In fact, the museum houses so many pieces that only a fraction can be displayed at a time.
Some of the most beloved pieces in the facility are “Bayou Plaquemines” by Joseph Rusling Meeker, “Portrait of Margaret with Two Orphans” by Jacques Amans, and “Palmettos in City Park, New Orleans” by Bror Anders Wikstrom. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year featuring contemporary and historic artists.
Admission is free for children under 5, members, and art museum employees, $6.75 for children 5 to 17, $11 for military personnel, seniors 65+, students, teachers, and groups of 10 or more, and $13.50 for adults. Fees are waived for Louisiana residents on Thursdays. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Magazine at Capdeville.
In the 18th century, the New Orleans’ Ursuline convents were a series of convents that served as pillars of the local religious community. This was especially true for those who originally came to the country from France. Today, the Old Ursuline Convent Museum remembers these convents’ role in the city’s development.
Historically, the nuns of the convents were nurses, teachers, and even doctors, and they cared for children and sick and injured patients. Today, many artifacts and records from this period have been preserved and are on display to the public.
The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that focus on the lives of some of the area’s important religious figures and historical periods. Some of the most popular previous exhibits have been “The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots” and “One Heart, One Soul: The Life and Legacy of Henriette Delille.” The museum is available as a venue for events such as weddings and receptions.
Admission is free for children, $6 for students, $7 for seniors, and $8 for adults. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The nearest streetcar stop is Ursulines.
Since opening in 2004, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum has helped open the door to the region’s culinary history and traditions. The museum doesn’t leave any stone unturned, with exhibits exploring how food has played a part in Southern culture, its use for community building, and some of the most famous recipes.
As a result, the museum has a wide variety of exhibits that showcase history, development, and even some of the South’s most notable chefs. One of the most popular galleries is the “Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery,” which focuses specifically on the state’s Creole cooking traditions.
The facility regularly hosts events throughout the year. These include workshops to get kids interested in cooking, demonstrations, and classes for adults who want to learn new skills, such as beer brewing. The museum is also a research center and has a library of culinary books and publications to peruse.
Admission is free for members and children under 13, $5.25 for military personnel, students, and seniors 60+, and $10.50 for adults. The museum is open Thursday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is O C Haley at M L King.
We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission. Several other programs offer similar concessions.
The Museums for All program offers free or reduced admission to museums through the U.S. for those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits). Participating attractions in the greater New Orleans area are Longue Vue House and Gardens, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Participation is subject to change; please verify participating museums and entry conditions before your visit.
Clearly, New Orleans has no shortage of museums worth visiting. Whether you’re looking for a taste of Mardi Gras or are more of a history or art lover, there’s an exhibit in NOLA worth visiting. We hope this list has helped you narrow down your options so you can pick the New Orleans museum that deserves a spot on your itinerary.
New Orleans is home to a wide variety of museums. Art, history, and local culture are all represented in the city’s galleries, which helps ensure that there’s something for everyone in NOLA. Some of the most popular museums center around New Orleans’ development.
There are over 30 different official museums in New Orleans. However, this doesn’t take into account the numerous smaller exhibits, galleries, and landmarks in the city. It also doesn’t consider the pop-up museum experiences that open on occasion.
Today, one of New Orleans’ most famous events is Mardi Gras. However, the city is also known for its unique culture, music, and art, which largely comes from the history of the French Quarter.
There are a few famous neighborhoods in New Orleans. The most popular area for tourists is the historic French Quarter. As the oldest inhabited part of the city, it’s had the longest amount of time to earn a reputation among locals and out-of-towners.
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