Tulane students are lucky to live in a city as culturally rich and happening as New Orleans, but many of us lack the motivation or resources to leave the Tulane bubble. During my first semester at Tulane, one way that I have expanded my experience is by visiting different museums around New Orleans. Below, I’ve listed six of my favorite history and art museums that I’ve visited in New Orleans to encourage you to take advantage of our beautiful city and learn more about its history and art culture!
1. The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
For those of you interested in art and art history, the NOMA is the perfect place to take out a sketchbook and explore a diverse collection of artwork from all over the world. The NOMA is dedicated to displaying artwork from a wide array of diverse communities, making it an art experience that you can’t pass up. It’s even complete with a must-see sculpture garden that is as beautiful as it is impressive. Aside from its permanent exhibits, the NOMA also has changing exhibits that reflect current events in New Orleans. From October 26th, 2018-January 27th, 2019, the NOMA is displaying The Orleans Collection, a collection of European artwork to honor the New Orleans Tricentennial, so be sure to check out this impactful and informative collection while it’s still on display!
2. The World War II Museum
The World War II Museum is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that even non-history buffs can enjoy. This nationally recognized museum has many strategies to engage its visitors, from interactive films to “train rides” that actually feel like they’re moving. Warning: this museum is HUGE! From giant model war planes to detailed war documentaries, the museum has seemingly endless displays to explore. Some of these exhibits, like “The Road to Berlin” and “The Road to Tokyo,” even contain fake trees and crumbling walls as well as real tanks and war artifacts that make you feel as if you are actually in those environments during war time. Suffice to say that this museum is not your average history class, and definitely worth a visit!
3. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art
The Ogden may be a smaller museum, but it is full of rich artwork that can enhance any afternoon experience. When I visited the Ogden, I went alone; I bought my ticket, put on my earbuds, and perused each of the five floors of Southern art. Although the Ogden is not as diverse and impressive as some other New Orleans museums, it is the perfect place to learn about Southern history and take some time for yourself. From paintings to photograph collections, the Ogden provides its visitors with both an informative and inspiring artistic experience.
4. The Hermann-Grima House and the Gallier House
Many people pass by these two historical landmarks on their visits to the French Quarter and never even realize that they are passing an important representation of New Orleans history. The Hermann-Grima and Gallier Houses are both Victorian-era houses that have been preserved and modified to provide a unique representation of an actual New Orleans house during the 19th century. For those of you interested in architecture—or even those of you who, like me, have an unreasonable obsession with books like Pride and Prejudice—these houses are the perfect way to explore the history of New Orleans and its residents. The Hermann-Grima house and its adjacent slave quarters were owned by the Hermann and Grima families in the 19th century, and a majority of the artifacts and objects on display were actually owned by the families during their residence. Similarly, the Gallier house was owned by the Gallier family in the 19th century, and all of the items and furnishings in the house were modelled according to an inventory created by the Galliers themselves after James Gallier Jr.’s death in 1868. Overall, these houses truly transport you back to 19th century New Orleans and are an amazing experience for anyone interested in the city and its history.
5. The Presbytere Museum in the French Quarter (aka The Louisiana State Museum)
As Tulane students, it’s important for us to learn more about the history of the city that we live in, and what better way to learn about the history New Orleans in a culturally rich and engaging environment like the French Quarter. The Presbytere Museum is separated into two floors: the bottom floor is dedicated completely to the history of Hurricane Katrina, and the second floor contains a Mardi Gras display as well as a collection of artifacts from New Orleans balls and ceremonies. From video clips of Katrina to a mesmerizing documentary about real people who lived through this tragedy, the Katrina exhibit made me feel both more informed of and more connected to the city that I now call my home. Paired with the Mardi Gras exhibit, which is an exciting and colorful display of costumes and parade artifacts, the two collections represent New Orleans in a way that truly makes you appreciate the city and the people who live in it.
Even if visiting museums is not your usual daytime activity, I encourage you to check out at least one of these amazing opportunities to learn more about the history of one of the most fascinating and culturally rich cities on earth. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!
COVER PHOTO: New Orleans Online