Best museums in New Orleans
Going to New Orleans? Get ready for the delicious Creole and Cajun food, jazz music wafting down the street, and art on every corner. You can even find a hint of voodoo lurking around to make the city extra spicy. One thing is certain: NOLA does not disappoint. If you’re planning a trip to the Crescent City (aka, New Orleans), be sure to make some time for these museums in New Orleans.
New Orleans jazz museums
Petit Jazz Museum
The true jazz aficionado simply cannot miss Tremé’s Petit Jazz Museum. The “petit” modifier is no lie—with only one room, this museum is indeed small. But don’t fret: what it lacks in size, it makes up for in history, information, and character.
To make it all easier, you’ll see that the photos, paintings, and other artifacts in the room are arranged mostly in chronological order. Al Jackson, the museum’s curator, personally guides visitors through the exhibit. Listen as he tells the story of jazz music and its birth and growth in the historic Tremé district. This man knows how to bring history to life.
Tremé’s Petit Jazz Museum is open from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Note that it is closed on Sundays. If you want to be sure that you’ll get the guided tour, call ahead. This way you can verify that a guide will be there when you want to visit.
New Orleans Jazz Museum
If you’re interested in a broader, more general overview of jazz history, head to the New Orleans Jazz Museum on Esplanade Avenue. This museum is home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of jazz artifacts in the world. Admire the trumpets, trombones, and saxophones played by some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world. The museum’s collection also includes sheet music, records, and photographs.
In addition to their permanent collection, the New Orleans Jazz Museum also hosts many special events and exhibitions throughout the year. Check their calendar to see what’s going on while you’re in town. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays).
New Orleans art museums
New Orleans Museum of Art
Head to a museum that is a favorite of locals and visitors alike—The New Orleans Museum of Art, or NOMA. Its permanent collection is made up of nearly 40,000 pieces of art and is perpetually growing. What makes this museum unique? The “Art of the Americas” collection, which displays art and artifacts from North, South, and Central America. You’ll get to see an exceptional collection of artifacts from the Mayan culture.
Another highlight of NOMA lies outside the museum walls: the five-acre sculpture garden featuring some 90-plus sculptures. Get there early to beat the afternoon sun and browse through the sculpture garden before heading into the museum to cool down. The sculpture garden is open 7 days a week, with no additional admission fee, so you have no reason to miss it. The museum itself is open Tuesday–Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Mondays.
Royal Street galleries
For a more casual art experience, take a stroll down Royal Street in the French Quarter (it’s one block over from the famous Bourbon Street). You’ll find dozens of tiny galleries here, each one filled with photographs, paintings, and other various styles of artwork. A few notable galleries are Le Jardin, Tresor Gallery, Rodrigue Studio, Gallery Burguieres, Franke Relle Photography Gallery, and Angela King Gallery. However, it’s really best to just stroll down the street and walk in the galleries as you see them. You might come across some antique shops or cafes worth checking out between galleries. Not to mention that you’ll probably catch a few street performers to add to the experience.
Learn about World War II history at the city's National WWII Museum
It would be impossible to write about New Orleans museums without mentioning The National World War II Museum. See World War II history through stories, artifacts, immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences, and more. As the nation's official WWII museum, it houses over 250,000 artifacts, many of which are on display, although some are stored for research purposes. Various events, shows, lectures, and other exhibits throughout the year enhance the experience for visitors.
Luckily for you, the museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Keep in mind that it’s closed for Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.