Over the years, the museum became a repository for all things Louisiana as its collection continued to expand. Numerous artifacts are now dispersed across nine locations in five different cities. The majority of the buildings are located in the historic French Quarter. Apart from the newly completed Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum, all the museums are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
The Cabildo is located in Jackson Square next to the historic St Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Its collection consists of more than 1000 pieces of artifacts and paintings that highlight the rich history of New Orleans and Louisiana. This includes the wall-size painting of 'The Battle of New Orleans' by Frenchman Eugene Louis Lami that depicts the US triumph over the British soldiers. Another must-see piece is Napoleon Bonaparte's death mask, which is one of only four known genuine bronze masks to exist. It is believed the mask was made by Dr. Francesco Antommarchi, who was one of Napoleon's physicians when he passed away.
The museum building is also a historically significant building. It was built between 1795 and 1799, and the Spanish used it as its seat of government in New Orleans. Even after the colonial period, the building was also used extensively for political and judicial purposes during different periods in time. It became home to the Louisiana State Museum in 1911 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today, the building is one of the major historic landmarks of the city and state.
The Presbytereis a historically significant building on Jackson Square in the French Quarters of New Orleans. It was designed in 1791 to match The Cabildo, with these two buildings flanking both sides of the St. Louis Cathedral. They are some of the country's best examples of Spanish architecture from the colonial period. Its name was derived from the site's original purpose as a religious residential area.
Today, it is home to two permanent exhibits - Mardi Gras and hurricanes. The Mardi Gras themed gallery pays homage to the annual carnival that the city of New Orleans is most well known for all around the world. Dubbed It's Carnival Time in Louisiana,” part of the exhibition traces the roots of the festival to medieval times in Europe and Africa up until the colorful parades held today. Visitors will get to see glitzy and over-the-top costumes and accessories worn by performers, as well as climb on top of parade floats.
The "Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond" exhibit discusses the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. As one of the deadliest hurricanes to have hit the US, it turned out to be one of the worst disasters in American history after the levee system in New Orleans broke down. Using photos, video footage, and artifacts, it documents the tragedy and how people coped with rebuilding efforts.
The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old US Mint
A key permanent exhibit at the New Orleans museum pays tribute to the city's reputation as the birthplace of jazz. It chronicles the complex history of the freedom-loving music genre from its street music origins to its widespread popularity today. Jazz aficionados will relish in its seminal collection of musical instruments, photographs, original manuscripts, and recordings among others. Some notable items include the first cornet used by Louis Armstrong, the clarinet of George Lewis, and the trombone of Edward 'Kid' Ory.
Another exhibit relates to the history of the Old US Mint building, which is a historical landmark in and of itself. The building was built by 1835 in the Greek-revival style. Minting operations began three years later and ended in 1909. It holds the distinct title of being the only mint to have produced American and Confederate coinage. The display takes visitors through the process of how coins are made, featuring a Morgan & Orr coin press and Troemner bullion scale, as well as coins that have been minted at the site.