From international trade to world-renowned music and food, New Orleans has always been one of the most culturally influential cities in the United States – and it has the museum repertoire to prove it. There are classics on display as well as all of the quirks that make everyday life in New Orleans so special. While they all have something great to offer, these ones take the award for the best the city has to offer.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
As one of the legendary Smithsonian’s thousands of arms, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art does exactly what its name implies: features and celebrates the culture and aesthetic of Southern artists, with the largest such art collection in the world. The collection oversees not only local art but much more from 15 different states in total, with works dating back to 1733 and continuing all the way into the contemporary present.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
The local pharmaceutical history of New Orleans is cherished in this museum, just like the street on which it abodes: the French Quarter’s own legendary Chartres Street. This museum’s home was once home to America’s first licensed pharmacist, Louis Dufilho Jr. Inside, a collection of antique artifacts include hand-blown apothecary bottles, potions once used by Voodoo practitioners, surgical instruments, prosthetic devices, and old wheelchairs. There’s even a 19th-century pharmacists’ work area reconstructed.
Backstreet Cultural Museum
Tucked away inside of a building that is camouflaged as one of its many surrounding neighborhood places of residence, this museum actually boasts one of the most comprehensive archives of the culture of the famous local Treme neighborhood and its rich traditions as one of New Orleans’ oldest African American culture.
Museum of Death
This subject isn’t specifically tied to local history or culture, but is rather a museum to celebrate death in general. And yet, where else would anyone expect to find it besides strange and splendid New Orleans? It exhibits everything death-related, from serial killers and morgues to macabre art and skulls. Approach with caution: the subject matter is quite heavy, despite trying to bring a interesting and refreshing approach to it.
Old Ursuline Convent Museum
One of the oldest and most celebrated buildings in the French Quarter, the Old Ursuline Convent has been around since 1752 and is considered one of the best surviving examples of French architecture in the United States. The building has served many purposes during its time, as a convent, a schoolhouse, a residence for the Archbishop, and a seat of city legislature.
Once the site of the very agreement that led to Louisiana’s annexation by the United States, Jackson Square is also home to this museum – which commemorates the hybrid Spanish-French hybrid of influence in this region before it became American. Many artifacts from this time include those of the earliest explorers, including portraits, original documents, and of course art.
The Historic New Orleans Collection
This collection can be found right where it belongs: at the heart of the French Quarter, on a campus where even the buildings themselves are testaments to the history and culture. The collection focuses on the War of 1812, Tennessee Williams, jazz music, and Louisiana’s unique history.