Welcome to the vibrant world of New Orleans, a city steeped in a medley of history, art, music, and culture like no other. Known for its dynamic spirit, this Louisiana gem serves up a feast for the senses, with some of the most compelling museums in the country nestled among its historic streets. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a curious traveler, the array of museums in the Big Easy promises an unforgettable journey through the unique narrative of the city.

1. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Off the beaten path of New Orleans’ bustling French Quarter, there lies a treasure trove of lesser-known museums that await your discovery. These charming institutions are brimming with stories and artifacts that offer a fresh perspective on the city’s diverse heritage.

Take for instance, the enchanting New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, located in a 19th-century apothecary on Chartres Street. Here, you can delve into the intriguing world of early medicines and pharmaceuticals, complete with antique jars and medical instruments that tell tales of bygone healthcare practices.

Established in 1950, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum has dedicated itself to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of a vast array of artifacts and materials that chronicle the evolution of pharmacy and medical practices from the 19th to the early and mid-20th centuries. It places a special emphasis on the contributions and history within New Orleans and Louisiana. The museum is housed in a historic creole townhouse in the French Quarter, built between 1822 and 1823. This building not only adds to the museum’s charm but also holds historical significance as it was both the apothecary and home of Louis J. Dufilho, Jr., recognized as the first licensed pharmacist in the United States, until 1855.

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is located on 514 Chartres Street New Orleans, LA 70130 and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-4pm. Guided tours require a registration and cost $15 adults, $10 students, military/veterans, seniors 65+, Kids 6 and under free. Guided tours for groups of 25 or more are available by  contacting the Pharmacy Museum at (504) 565-8027.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

2. New Orleans Museum of Art

For those who find solace in the strokes of a paintbrush or the contours of a sculpture, New Orleans will not disappoint. The city’s art museums are a testament to its flourishing art scene, known for both its historic significance and contemporary vibrancy.

The New Orleans Museum of Art, set within the lush environs of City Park, houses almost 50,000 objects, from French and American art to African and Japanese works. It’s a place where art novices and aficionados alike can wander for hours, captivated by the vast array of visual delights.

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), established as the city’s premier institution for fine arts on December 16, 1911, began its journey with a modest collection of just nine artworks. Now, it boasts a remarkable permanent collection that has grown to nearly 50,000 pieces. Renowned for its significant holdings in French and American art, photography, glass, as well as African and Japanese works, NOMA’s collection continues to evolve, securing its status as one of the leading art museums in the South.

Adjacent to NOMA, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden spans twelve acres and stands as a pivotal sculpture exhibit in the United States. It features over 90 sculptures arrayed across a scenic landscape, complete with winding paths, reflective lagoons, and the timeless beauty of 200-year-old live oaks draped in Spanish moss, alongside mature pines, magnolias, camellias, and footbridges, making it a significant cultural destination.

The New Orleans Museum of Art is located at One Collins Diboll Circle, City Park, New Orleans, LA 70124. The museum is open: Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 am–5 pm, Wednesday !2-7pm, and is closed on Mondays.
Admission for the New Orleans Museum of Art is between $8.00- $20.00, with free admission for NOMA members, Louisiana residents on Wednesdays and free general admission for children 12 and under.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, New Orleans Museum of Art

3. National World War II Museum

New Orleans is home to the National World War II Museum, a monumental institution that pays homage to the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation. Voted the #1 Attraction in New Orleans by TripAdvisor and designated by Congress as the official WWII museum of the United States, it presents an immersive experience through the war that changed the world.

With its expansive collections, immersive exhibits, and sobering accounts, the museum not only showcases wartime artifacts but also provides deep personal insights into the lives of those who fought and worked on the home front. The museum’s narrative storytelling, alongside its historical treasures, gives visitors a profound sense of the courage and complexity of the Second World War.

The National WWII Museum brings history to life through engaging exhibits, dynamic multimedia presentations, and an extensive array of artifacts and personal narratives, providing a deep dive into the story of the conflict that reshaped the globe. Beyond its physical exhibits, the Museum extends its reach through online archives, interactive virtual field trips, webinars, educational journeys, and the prestigious International Conference on World War II, presenting unique opportunities for enthusiasts to explore historical events and pay tribute to the generation whose immense sacrifices ensured our liberty.

National World War II Museum is located on 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. Tickets range from $25 – $35 with children under the age of 5 and WWII Veterans free admission. The museum is open 9am-5pm daily and is only closed Mardi Gras Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, National World War II Museum

4. The Historic New Orleans Collection

New Orleans is a city that honors its past while continually reinventing itself. The Historic New Orleans Collection offers a gateway into the city’s rich history, preserving the very essence of its culture and charm through exhibitions, guided tours, and research opportunities.

Here, history buffs can immerse themselves in an extensive array of documents, photographs, and artifacts that chronicle the city’s multifaceted past. The museum serves not just as a repository of the past but as a living connection to the stories that have shaped New Orleans.

The Historic New Orleans Collection operates three campuses within three blocks of each other in the French Quarter, a 3–7 minute walk apart. All facilities are closed Mondays and select holidays (New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mardi Gras weekend, Easter, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve).

520 Royal Street: Open Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Features include interpretative courtyard displays, French Quarter Galleries, Tricentennial Wing galleries, a shop, and a café. Exhibitions are free and self-guided; tours cost $5, free for members.

533 Royal Street: Temporarily closed for renovations.

410 Chartres Street: Open Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (closed Sundays and Mondays). Features the Williams Research Center; free admission, appointments required. Contact reference@hnoc.org or call (504) 598-7171.


5. New Orleans Jazz Museum

Jazz, blues, and a medley of musical genres are the heartbeat of New Orleans. The city’s musical museums are not merely places of remembrance; they are stages that continue to showcase the living tradition of New Orleans music.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a vibrant tribute to the city where jazz originated, offering an enriching exploration of this iconic musical genre through various facets. The museum provides a dynamic and interactive experience with exhibits that delve into the history and evolution of jazz. It also serves as a center for educational programming that spans multiple generations, enriching visitors’ understanding of jazz through hands-on activities and structured learning. The museum is not only an educational hub but also a center for research, with extensive facilities that support academic and musical studies.

The museum hosts a wide array of live musical performances that celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of New Orleans jazz. With the largest and most comprehensive collection of jazz artifacts and memorabilia in the world, the museum stands as a cornerstone for both jazz enthusiasts and historians alike. Here, visitors can explore the evolution of jazz through interactive exhibits and even catch live performances by local musicians, ensuring that the museum experience is an auditory feast as well.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is located at the historic Old U.S. Mint, right at the confluence of the French Quarter and the Frenchmen Street live music corridor, on 400 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, LA 70116. It is open Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and is closed on Mondays.

Admission to the museum for adults is $8 for students, Seniors, and active military admission is $6, and children aged 6 and under are free. The New Orleans Jazz Museum offers a 20% discount for groups of 15 or more and multi-museum ticket purchases, free admission for school groups with reservations, and a 10% discount for AAA members.

The Best museums in New Orleans, Jazz Museum

6. The Louisiana Children’s Museum

For families, the city’s museums offer a blend of education and entertainment that will enchant both the young and the young at heart. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a hub of imagination, with interactive exhibits that inspire creativity and learning through play.

The Louisiana Children’s Museum has relocated from Julia Street in downtown New Orleans to a new, expansive setting in City Park after more than 30 years. Designed as a comprehensive social, cultural, and educational resource, the museum’s campus caters to the needs of children and families from the Greater New Orleans area and beyond. Visitors can explore a variety of educational themes including literacy, STEM, the environment, health and wellness, as well as arts and culture. From environmental exhibits that teach sustainability to a pint-sized grocery store that introduces little ones to the basics of nutrition and commerce, these spaces provide a fertile ground for learning and fun, making every visit a new adventure.

Located at 15 Henry Thomas Drive, New Orleans, LA 70124, the museum operates from Wednesday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., while it remains closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission fees are $18.00 plus sales tax for adults and children over 12 months old, and $15.00 plus sales tax for seniors and active military aged 65 and over with valid ID.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, The Louisiana Children’s Museum

7. The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture

While Mardi Gras might be synonymous with New Orleans, the city’s museums offer a deeper dive into the cultural significance behind the city’s iconic festivities.

The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture, for instance, pulls back the curtain on the elaborate artistry and preparation that goes into the costumes and floats. Visitors can marvel at the intricate beadwork and flamboyant designs that make the festival an explosion of color and creativity.

The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture in New Orleans showcases Carl Mack’s extensive private collection. Known as “The Xylophone Man” and a notable figure in New Orleans’ entertainment scene, Mack’s collection captures the essence and exuberance of Mardi Gras. The museum features an array of Carnival costumes that illustrate the creativity and craftsmanship of New Orleans’ costuming tradition. Highlights include regalia from Mardi Gras Kings and Queens, elaborately adorned Mardi Gras Indian suits, and attire from various Carnival celebrations.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the festive spirit by dressing up and taking photos in the interactive Costume Closet. Additionally, the museum hosts four themed exhibits annually, currently featuring works by local photographer Carlos Gonzalez, and various special events including a unique Mardi Gras Show.

Located at 318 N. Rampart Street, the museum operates from Thursday to Monday with doors opening at noon and a show starting at 2 PM. Admission is $15, and children 3 and under enter free.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture

8. The Voodoo Museum

There’s a reason New Orleans is often regarded as one of America’s most haunted cities. For those intrigued by the paranormal, the city’s haunted museums offer chilling encounters with the supernatural.

The Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter offers an authentic glimpse into the mysterious world of Voodoo, featuring ritual artifacts and informative displays about this often misunderstood religion and its role in New Orleans’ culture. This is known as one of the more unique and interesting museums in the country.

The New Orleans VooDoo Museum is situated at 724 Dumaine Street, nestled between Bourbon Street and Royal Street in the vibrant heart of the French Quarter, just blocks away from Jackson Square. The museum welcomes visitors seven days a week, from 10 AM to 6 PM, and remains open on most holidays, except for Christmas Day and Mardi Gras Day.

Admission fees are set at $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, military personnel, and students. Additionally, entry to the gift shop is free.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, The Voodoo Museum

9. Contemporary Arts Center

The city’s creative spirit shines through in its support of local artisans and avant-garde art forms. At the Contemporary Arts Center, modern masterpieces and thought-provoking installations challenge visitors to see the world through a different lens. Exhibitions here often feature cutting-edge work from local and international artists, cementing New Orleans’ reputation as a hotspot for contemporary art.

Located at 900 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130-3908, the venue is open from 11 AM to 5 PM Wednesday through Monday, and closed on Tuesdays.

The Best Museums in New Orleans, Contemporary Arts Center

10. Southern Food & Beverage Museum

In addition to its rich tapestry of art, history, and music, New Orleans offers a savory exploration of its culinary heritage through the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Nestled in the heart of the city, this unique museum celebrates the diverse food culture of the South, with a special focus on Louisiana’s culinary traditions.

Visitors can embark on a delicious journey through exhibits that showcase the history of Southern cuisine, from Creole and Cajun to the soul food that has warmed hearts and homes. The museum features a collection of antique cooking utensils, historical recipes, and interactive displays that tell the story of how food shapes our culture and community.

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum also hosts cooking classes and demonstrations, allowing guests to not only learn about but also taste the flavors that make New Orleans a gastronomic paradise. It’s a must-visit for food enthusiasts and anyone interested in the stories that ingredients and dishes can tell about a place and its people.

By including the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in your New Orleans itinerary, you add another layer to your cultural adventure, blending the sensory experiences of sight, sound, and taste into a memorable exploration of this vibrant city.

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is open from Thursday to Monday, 11 AM to 5 PM, and is located at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, Louisiana 70113.

Key Takeaways

  • From The New Orleans Museum of Art to The New Orleans Jazz Museum, both offer a rich tapestry of art, history, music, and culture.
  • The National World War II Museum provides an engaging history lesson on America’s role in the global conflict.
  • The Historic New Orleans Collection provides unique insights into the city’s heritage.
  • Family-friendly exhibits ensure a learning experience for visitors of all ages at The Louisiana Children’s Museum .
  • Beyond the revelry of Mardi Gras, The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture offers a look into the cultural significance of New Orleans’ traditions.
  • The New Orleans VooDoo Museum appeals to those interested in the city’s spookier aspects.
  • A must visit for food enthusiasts and anyone interested in the history of Southern cuisine, from Creole and Cajun to the soul food at Southern Food & Beverage Museum.

To truly appreciate the depth and breadth of New Orleans’ museums, one must recognize that they do more than house relics and art; they are custodians of the city’s soul. These institutions embody the spirit of New Orleans – a city that reveres its past, celebrates its present, and embraces its future.

Planning your visit to these world-class museums of New Orleans can enhance your experience significantly. Aim to visit during less crowded hours, often on weekday mornings, and check for any special events or seasonal exhibitions that may be on display. Many museums offer online ticket purchases or passes that can provide access to multiple venues, making your cultural adventure both seamless and cost-effective.

Whether you’re strolling through a gallery of contemporary art, tapping your feet to a jazz rhythm, or tracing the roots of local customs, you’re participating in a living, breathing history lesson that’s as entertaining as it is educational. Every museum in New Orleans tells a story, and these stories are waiting for you to explore.