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Arts & Culture

New Orleans Museum Month: History Spots to Explore – Part 1

Local patrons of the arts can get extra mileage from their museum memberships in August for the inaugural New Orleans Museum Month. Members at any of the 15 participating museums can get free admission for two to any of the other participants all month. Throughout this month, we’re going to give you a look at the participating museums, and first we’ll focus on great places for history buffs.

History Museums in New Orleans

The Historic New Orleans Collection

historic new orleans collection museums
The beautifully elegant Williams Residence Dining Room, of The Historic New Orleans Collection (photo courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection)

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) typically has free admission, but through August will offer its two guided tours free for Museum Month. Choose between the Williams Residence Tour, which allows guests to explore the home of the museum’s founders, and the Architecture and Courtyards Tour, which features THNOC’s eight properties on Royal Street, each one representing the styles of architecture represented in the French Quarter.

Besides the free tours, August is a good time to visit THNOC because of the four exhibits currently available to view, including “Shout, Sister, Shout! The Boswell Sisters of New Orleans,” about the New Orleans-based group known for their close harmony-style singing that was popular at the time; “The Louisiana History Galleries,” which provides a look at the development of Louisiana from the early 18th century to the present; “Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans & the Latin Caribbean Sphere,” including architecture photographs by local artist Richard Sexton; and “From Cameo to Close-up: Louisiana in Film,” a collection of memorabilia, photography and more from movies filmed or set in Louisiana dating from the silent movie era.

THNOC membership starts at $35 a year for an individual, $65 a year for a family.

The National WWII Museum

The National World War II Museum is highly regarded as one of the best museums in the country. In 2003, Congress designated it as “America’s National WWII Museum,” and it has several different exhibits, interactive displays, and artifacts that highlight America’s contribution to World War II. The museum is also home to the Solomon Victory Theater, a 4D theater showing the award-winning, exclusive Tom Hanks production, “Beyond All Boundaries.

national wwii museum new orleans
The National WWII Museum (photo by jshyun, from Flickr)

Now through October 12, the National WWII Museum is showcasing a special exhibit called “From Barbed Wire to Battlefields: Japanese American Experiences in WWII.” This exhibit features oral histories and images depicting the hardships faced by Japanese Americans suspected of sympathizing with the enemy during the war, and the discrimination they faced.

The National WWII Museum membership starts at $50 a year for an individual, $90 a year for two people, and $160 a year for a family.

The Cabilbo

Built between 1795 and 1799, and located in the heart of the French Quarter, The Cabilbo is one of the country’s most significant historic buildings. The Louisiana Purchase was signed within its walls in 1803, and it served as a Louisiana government building during several important times in our country’s history.

Now the Cabilbo is home to more than 1,000 artifacts and works of art, including permanent and rotating exhibits that depict the incredibly diverse and rich past of the New Orleans area and Louisiana, like “The Battle of New Orleans,” Eugene Louis Lami’s huge 1839 painting that shows intricate details of the final and most decisive battle of the War of 1812, as well as the “Freshly Brewed: The Coffee Trade and the Port of New Orleans” and “Louisiana and the Mighty Mississippi” exhibits.

The Cabilbo membership starts at $40 a year for an individual, $25 a year for students, and $55 a year for friends and family (2 people and any children under 18).

The Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum

The French Quarter landmark that is now The Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum was once home to Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a New Orleans native who ordered the first shots of the Civil War fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina in April 1861, and Frances Parkinson Keyes, a noted author of more than fifty books and short story collections, both at different points in New Orleans history.

The Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum new orleans
The Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum (photo by Amy the Nurse, from Flickr)

This beautiful home is an elegant display of historic New Orleans architecture, from its twin curved staircases leading to a Tuscan portico to its large ballroom and fine Southern porch. The house features many of the General’s original furnishings and displays Keyes’ collections of more than 200 antique dolls and 87 tea pots, as well as her delicate fans and folk costumes.

The Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum membership starts at $30 a year for an individual, $50 a year for a family.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of History Museums later this month to learn about more historic spots to explore for free during New Orleans Museum Month. All month long, be sure to provide proof of membership at any of the Museum Month participants to get free admission all around town.

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