The Presbytere and the Cabildo are both part of the Louisiana State Museum. The two buildings flank the St. Louis Cathedral at one end of Jackson Square.
The Cabildo--originally a government building for the Spanish colonial administration in the late 18th century --focuses on early New Orleans and Louisiana. On the ground floor, down the hall from the entry room, two large rooms feature exhibits on Spanish and French Colonial artifacts and information. Small 2-3 person benches paired with video screens allow visitors to sit and take in short films on episodes in Louisiana history. Other exhibits display furniture, documents, and other artifacts of early Louisiana.
The Presbytere continues the story of New Orleans--in particular, the 21st century and Katrina. The entry room uses indigo lighting to create a somber mood, and Fats Domino's piano--posed in the position in which it was found after Katrina--greets visitors. Beyond the entry, exhibits cover the science of hurricanes. One darkened room plays a repeating loop of Katrina footage on a wall-sized screen. Another features artifacts and stories from the storm--a wall with the distinctive red markings of city inspectors, the handwritten narrative scrawled by a survivor on his wall as he remained trapped in his house, videos of interviews with survivors, and stories of rescuers.
|Bottles hanging from ceiling in entry room|
Upstairs, the museum shifts into party mode for the Mardi Gras museum. Besides the obvious--and entrancing--displays of opulent costumes and magnificent images of floats--the museum covers the origins of Mardi Gras in the United States. One helpful poster explains how to determine Mardi Gras dates each year. Others discuss the complex culture of Krewes, Kings, and other Mardi Gras traditions. The museum goes beyond the modern New Orleans version of Mardi Gras to look at folk traditions and Carnival celebrations in rural areas.
The final touch--restrooms that resemble the port-a-potties on the parade route.
From the museum website:
The Cabildo and Presbytere
701 and 751 Chartres St., New Orleans LA 70116
Admission--for each museum:
Students, Senior Citizens, Active Military $5.00
Children 12 and under Free
**** 20% discount if tickets for 2 or more museums are purchased.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Closed Monday and state holidays.