Located right by the water in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Art and Science Museum is an educational and entertaining trip. While there are rotating galleries and traveling art exhibits, the Museum’s permanent exhibits are the big draw. Marvel at a show in the Planetarium, discover Ancient Egypt or get up close and personal with works by Louisiana’s best artists.

The impressive permanent collection includes notable works of photography and local contemporary art. Many of the exhibits are aimed at children, making this an excellent day out for those with young kids as well as the young-at-heart.

1.Permanent Collections

Permanent Collections
© Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum

The permanent exhibitions are split into two halves: Art and science. The science galleries span much of the museum, and aim to impart new knowledge onto visitors. Exhibits take in the entire universe in the Universe Gallery, then focus somewhat closer to home with the Solar System and Planet Tower exhibitions. Finally, the Ancient Egypt gallery provides a fascinating insight into one of our planet’s most interesting civilizations.

The Universe Gallery features stunning photographs from space, as collected from the Hubble Space Telescope, JPL Spacecraft and NASA. Exhibits are updated regularly to reflect new cosmic discoveries and to stay up to date with the latest astronomical news. Also of note are the collection of meteorites which the museum owns, such as the Campo del Cielo iron meteorite, which weighs more than 250 pounds and is more than a billion years older than any natural rock found on earth. It was discovered in 1576, and is slightly larger than the Gibeon iron meteorite also on display, which was founded in 1836 and weighs around 239 pounds.

Standing in the center of one gallery is the Planet Tower, an architectural feat which spans over two floors and is prominently displayed in the Museum’s windows. The tower features scale models of the planets in the solar system, while the planetarium dome is used to represent the sun. Saturn’s rings stretch over fourteen feet wide and, in comparison, Earth is the size of a bowling ball.

The Solar System space contains both of these striking exhibits, as well as galleries of its own and two hands-on interactive stations: The Discovery Depot and the Science Station. The Discovery Depot is aimed at children up to nine years old to help them connect with art and science through play and creation. The Science Station is designed for kids aged seven to twelve, and offers interactive exhibits and games focused on science and math. Puzzles are designed to tease and stretch their minds while they learn about everything from calorie contents to the ethics of nanoscience and engineering.

The most interesting exhibit currently on display may be the Museum’s new triceratops skull. It’s more than 65 million years old, 86 inches long, weighs over 1,500 pounds and was unearthed in Montana. Many triceratops fossils have been found in America, as North and South America had split off from the historic land mass of Pangaea and started to become its own continent. Triceratops were larger than even African elephants are, and the skull serves as a reminder of just how far life on Earth has come.

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2.Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt
© Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum

Compared to the cosmos, the Ancient Egypt gallery is a somewhat different tone and seems more suited to a history museum than a science and art gallery. However, the focus on the Ptolemaic period (322 to 30 BC) adds to the overall vibe of the museum in reminding visitors of the past in order to better engage with the present. Timelines and world maps help to contextualize the displays.

The back room of the gallery is dedicated to Egyptian funerary practices and their belief in the afterlife. The centerpiece is an Egyptian mummy, who has been at the Museum since 1964, and is considered a rarity among mummies. Rather than being embalmed, his body dried out naturally in a hot environment and was then wrapped in bandages so he still has his internal organs. Many elements of thisLouisiana Art and Science Museum mummy are unusual, and there are displays about his life and death as well as the continuing research into him.

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© Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum

The permanent collection of art has three main strata: The American and European Art retrospective that tracks art through history, the locally-inspired Louisiana Modern and Contemporary Art section, and the diverse collection of Photography.

Works of art are displayed in the small Soupçon and Colonnade Galleries, one on each floor of the museum. Additionally, sculptures by famed Croatian artist Ivan Meštrovic are found year-round in the Bert S. Turner Family Atrium. Overall, the Museum has over 4,000 works of art and artifacts in its permanent collection.

American and European art on offer dates back to the eighteenth century through to the present day, taking in a range of styles and schools. American artists include Dale Chihuly, Hunt Slonem and Rob Erdle, as well as John Marin’s intriguingly geometric mountain paintings. European artists of note in the collection include Jean Victor Bertin, Jean-Joseph-Elenore-Antoine Ansiaux and Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard.

The local collection of Louisiana Modern and Contemporary Art is dedicated to artists who were born or have worked in Louisiana since 1900. Once again, a wide range of styles are represented through the objects on display, many of which were acquired through charitable funds. Prominent folk artist Clementine Hunter is well represented in the collection, and others included are Ed Whiteman, Caroline Durieux and KnuteHeldner. Works of art range from Fritz Bultman’s colorful cubist canvases to Frank Hayden’s geometric sculptures.

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© Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum

The Irene W. Pennington Planetarium is another attraction which brings visitors to the museum, as it hosts fascinating movies and sky shows in a high-tech, 60-foot domed theater. Shows on offer are varied, and give visitors the chance to traverse the night sky and the universe beyond as well as participate in more down-to-earth activities, such as journeys of American pioneers or mysterious migration routes of insects. Shows change with the seasons and are suitable for ages three and up; for little ones aged two or younger, there are special Family Hour shows on Saturdays.

Besides these regular exhibits, much of the Museum’s appeal comes from its rotating and temporary exhibitions. Louisiana Art and Science Museum is worth visiting again and again, as most of the inside galleries will have completely changed between visits. Exhibits on show often reflect something of Baton Rouge’s local economies, whether its displays of port history or exhibitions on the South’s motion picture industry.

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5.Museum History

Museum History  

Louisiana Art and Science Museum’s building was once a railway station, first built in 1925 in downtown Baton Rouge on the banks of the Mississippi River. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is a popular site for area schools to visit; students contribute to around 85,000 of the 175,000 total annual visitors.

Mission and Philosophy

The Louisiana Art and Science Museum aims to aid in the understanding and enjoyment of art and science for both the general public as well as students. The exhibits are designed to be unique and educational experiences which promote active discovery and encourage visitors to pursue further knowledge. The Museum’s interdisciplinary approach to art and science – and belief that the two areas inform and reflect each other – means that its content aims to work in tandem, with each side elucidating the other.

Ongoing Programs & Education

Exhibits in the Museum are constantly changing, as are the events which are put on. There are many differently monthly events aimed at getting children into science, engineering or art, which usually run on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Museum also serves the community through a regular program of workshops, lectures, classes, camps and teacher in-services. As a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, it works to promote and teach these subjects to a wider audience. Programs run every summer to engage children in productive and educational pursuits, from teaching them about science to helping them learn to create animated art.

What’s Nearby

Coming straight out of the doors of Louisiana Art and Science Museum, visitors are met with the rolling Mississippi River which creates a pleasant backdrop to a stroll around Baton Rouge’s downtown. Across the River Road to the east lies the Old State Capitol, and many other interesting local landmarks are within walking distance of the Museum.

100 River Road South Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802, Phone: 225-344-5272

Back to: Best Things to Do in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Things to do in in Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana Art and Science Museum

  • Permanent Collections, Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum
  • Ancient Egypt, Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum
  • Art, Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum
  • Planetarium, Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum
  • Museum History
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum