Looking for the best museums in New Orleans?
New Orleans is a city with a rich, vibrant, and multicultural history, quite different in a lot of ways from the rest of the United States. In fact, we’d even say that there’s nowhere like the Big Easy anywhere else in the world.
That means that it’s no surprise that the city is full of great museums for anyone who wants to dig into that unique past.
From things you’re expecting to some that are a bit more out there, New Orleans has it all. If you’re visiting, you might want a guide to help you pick through them all so you know which are most up your street.
That’s exactly what you’re looking at now! Read on to find out all about the best museums in New Orleans.
400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116-2015
One of New Orleans’ greatest claims to fame is that it’s the birthplace of jazz music. Jazz is inescapable wherever you go in the city so a visit to this museum is an absolute must, particularly if you’re a music lover.
It has a bunch of musical instruments that were played by various jazz legends (Fats Domino’s piano, for example) and a range of photography and artwork chronicling jazz through the ages.
It also has a live music venue on its 3rd floor. Dancing is encouraged!
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1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70113-1309
This is a fairly small museum but it packs in a lot. It’s a non-profit museum dedicated to providing and preserving a living history of the food of the Southern United States.
There are also cooking classes available here where you can learn the secrets of various great dishes from Southern cuisine like gumbo, jambalaya, pecan pie, and more.
Cocktail connoisseurs are also catered for, and you can even sip on them as you walk through the museum!
There’s a restaurant named Toups South attached to the museum and it’s the perfect place to satisfy the hunger you’re sure to have once you’ve finished looking through the exhibits.
1 Collins Diboll Cir, New Orleans, LA 70124-4605
When the New Orleans Museum of Art first opened in 1912, it only had 13 artworks to display. Today, that number has grown to over 40,000.
It features regularly changing exhibitions across all aspects of art including painting, photography, installations, and ancient artifacts.
Their permanent collection is no less impressive, containing works by huge names like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Wassily Kandinsky, and Tintoretto.
You could spend many hours exploring the exquisite art here and still find more afterward.
Another thing you shouldn’t miss is the sculpture garden. This is an eleven-acre park featuring 90 sculptures for you to admire in the sunshine.
101 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130-2420
The Sazerac House is a museum with a mission to tell the story of the culture around craft cocktails. If you don’t know, some claim that the Sazerac is the oldest cocktail in the United States and is the official cocktail of New Orleans.
It’s a concoction of 5 parts cognac and 1 part absinthe, finished off with a sugar cube and two dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters.
It was invented in New Orleans and gets its name from Sazerac de Forge et Fils, the cognac brand that was used in the original recipe. We’re sure you’ll be glad to hear that tours include tastings.
We’re even more sure that you’ll be glad to hear that admission and tours are free! You’ll still need to book an appointment, though, so don’t forget.
533 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130-2179
The Historic New Orleans Collection is an awesome place to take in some local history.
This place is all about the preservation of the culture of New Orleans and Louisiana more generally and features an ever-changing lineup of exhibitions.
Their material on the history of the French Quarter is particularly engaging and includes a moving history of Afro-Creole poetry. Be sure to stop by the museum cafe, Café Cour, before you leave.
It’s proud to serve up dishes reflecting the various cultural influences on New Orleans using local ingredients.
724 Dumaine St French Quarter, At Bourbon, New Orleans, LA 70116-3140
The most unique museum in New Orleans has to be the Voodoo Museum.
Voodoo is one of the most misunderstood sets of religious practices in the US, so this museum does a great job of both clearing things up a bit and telling the fascinating history of voodoo itself.
It’s packed with interesting voodoo relics and artifacts, and pieces of folklore. And if you want, they’ll even help you find a professional psychic to provide readings, rituals, and so on (though the museum doesn’t offer these services directly).
There are also guided cemetery tours for those who want to learn more about voodoo in the great outdoors.
514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130-2110
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is in the building that was once an apothecary’s shop belonging to Louis Dufilho Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the United States.
The museum tells the story of the history of medicine, including opium, perfumes and cosmetics, voodoo potion cures, and what the museum calls “questionable medical practices”.
You can even have your wedding party or other events in the museums’ 19th century French courtyard if you like! The museum shop also sells some amazing, vintage-style posters that you don’t want to miss.
Best Museums In New Orleans: Final Thoughts
There you have it! New Orleans is a treasure trove for lovers of history and museums, as you can see.
Whatever your age, background, or interests, you should have no trouble finding something to grab your interest here.
In fact, we’d recommend trying to make it to all of the museums we’ve mentioned here. You might not have the time for that, but you’ll certainly have fun trying!
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