Presbytere - Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans
The Presbytere is located on the right side of the St. Louis Cathedral. It is actually two museums in one. On the ground floor are exhibits dedicated to Hurricane Katrina and also to earlier hurricanes that have plagued New Orleans over the centuries. This is a fascinating exhibit and explains in detail on why most of the city was so devastated. There are multimedia displays explaining how the city was flooded and how for the most part The French Quarter was spared. There are many recordings of first person accounts on how they survived the hurricane and how many of their family members did not. Also on display are costumes made out of the canvas used to protect the survives that were worn during the Mardi Gras festivities that followed the next February. In the lobby is the remains of Fats Domino's piano, recovered from his house which was destroyed by Katrina.
On the second floor there is a permanent exhibited dedicated to Mardi Gras itself. There more than a fair share of costumes worn throughout the decades of Mardi Gras festivals and an explanation of a history of the festival itself.
I visited both the Presbytere and the Cabildo, the same morning. These two museums flank the St. Louis Cathedral. For $9 you can visit both of museums the same day like I did. Otherwise you must pay $6 for each musuem
The Presbytere, built in 1790, was originally a commercial building, and later was used as a courthouse. It became a state museum in 1911.
The entire first floor of the museum is dedicated to Hurricane Katrina. One room was dedicated to the system of levees and pumps, and how they failed. In addition to the standard exhibits with pictures, signs and statistics, there was a lot of first-hand information. One room has taped stories by survivors—hospital patients, rescuers, people that were stranded on the bridge and shot at, and even one delusional guy who was convinced Air Force One was coming to pick him up. Another room had benches in front of 3 big screens with videos on a continuous loop. One video showed the oncoming hurricane through a car windshield; in another, a trapped dog looked out through a hole in the roof of a home. I sat for a while and watched the scenes unfold.
The second floor was more cheerful—It was all about Mardi Gras history and customs. There were rooms dedicated to each aspect of it—costumes, krewes, balls, parades, etc.—all with good explanatory signs. The doors to the restrooms on this floor were designed to look like Porta-Potties.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10-4:30. Admission: $6 ($5 for seniors.)
The Cabildo and Presbytere, built on either side of St. Louis Cathedral, both date back to the end of the 18th century. The Cabildo's original purpose was to serve as the seat of the Spanish government in New Orleans and it was also used as a courtroom. Another one of its claims to fame is that one of the official ceremonies surrounding the Louisiana Purchase Treaty took place there on December 20, 1803. As for the Presbytere, it was originally built to house the clergy, but in the end it took on a commercial purpose. Despite their stately architecture, neither building had quite the glorious history one would imagine them to have - at some point the authorities even thought about demolishing the Cabildo because it had been left to fall in a bad state of disrepair. In 1911, both buildings were saved when they became part of the Louisiana State Museum. While the Cabildo is dedicated to the fascinating history of New Orleans (it's possible to see, among other interesting artefacts, Napoleon's death mask), the Presbytere has more to do with the city's culture. An entire floor is dedicated to the colourful traditions surrounding Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and a new exhibition on Hurricane Katrina opened just a few months ago. For me, that exhibition alone was worth the price of admission - I was moved to tears as I recalled the horrible events that took place in 2005, but I also smiled quite a few times when faced with examples of the citizens' contagious sense of humour and outstanding sense of community. A good place to go to get a good sense of New Orleans, then and now!
Flanking one side of St. Louis Cathedral (the Cabildo is on the other side) is the Presbytere - a building constructed in the late 1700's as housing for the local priests and monks (but that didn't happen). Today it's the home of a fascinating Mardi Gras museum that explores the history and traditions of a festival with roots as far back as ancient Rome. Exhibits include costumes, masks, throws, photos and other memorabilia from New Orleans' carnivals as well as a self-guided narration about the origins and significance of everything from King Cakes to crewes. Interesting and fun! See the website for ticket prices either individually or in combo with other New Orleans Louisiana State Museum properties.
The Presbytere got its name from that fact that it was suppose to house monks. The building dates from 1791. To my knowledge, the monks never made it but it has an around the year Mardi Gras exhibit. It tells you the history of carnival from Europe to Louisiana to New Orleans. Learning about how the Cajuns celebrate is fascinating.
Unfortunatelly, Presbytere museum(pic 5) was under renovation so we didn’t have the chance to check it.
It’s dedicated to Mardi Grass festival and as we didn’t visit New Orleans during Mardi Grass carnival it would be nice to get/learn some details about this popular event which brings thousands of visitors in the city to celebrate, dance and drink. The museum (according to my guidebook) houses a lot of exhibits like pictures, costumes, masks etc from the carnival
Actually Mardi Grass means Fat Tuesday!! It’s because after that day the catholics suppose to go into Lent period where no meat allowed.
The building of the museum was built in 1791 in same style with the Cabildo which is located at the other side of the Cathedral. Presbytere was supposed to house catholic monks first but then it turned into a court. It was originally called Casa Curial(Ecclesiastical House)
Presbytere museum is open 10.00-16.30 and the entrance fee is $6
For a taste of the Mardi Gras any time of the year, visit The Louisiana State Museum, housed in the Presbytere, a National Historic Landmark. Learn about the celebration's roots and see the flamboyant costumes worn through the years. For those of us who haven't experienced Mardi Gras, it is an opportunity to learn more about this popular event.
The Presbytere was designed in 1791 to complement the Town Hall's (or Calbido) design. These two structures sit on either side of the majestic St. Louis Cathedral and all were constructed due to the generous financing of Don Andres Almonester y Roxas.
The building, used at first for commercial enterprises, became a courthouse in 1834 and was utilized as such until 1911 when it became part of the Louisiana State museum.
Hours are Tues.-Sun./ 9am-5pm; closed Mondays and holidays. Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for students, seniors and active military; 12 and under free
The word "presbytere" is derived from the French word for "monastery". Originally called the Casa Curial, this was the residence of Catholic monks in the late 18th century. Later, it was used as a courthouse. In 1911, it was added to the Louisiana State Museum.
The best exhibit here deals with the annual Mardi Gras carnival. Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday"; this is the last day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Catholics are expected to give up something (often meat). So the purpose of Mardi Gras is to enjoy oneself, and have plenty of things to give up.
This is an excellent place to learn about Mardi Gras, for those who cannot actually be there for it.
The State Museum is a complex of national landmarks and New Orleans' most prominent heritage attraction. It houses thousands of artefacts and works of art which reflect Louisiana's legacy of diverse historic and cultural events. There are five properties in the French Quarter that the Museum operates - the Cabildo, Presbytere, 1850 House, Old U.S. Mint and Madame John's Legacy.
The Presbytere has an interesting Mardi Gras collection of costumes, King and Queen Ball costume, crowns, etc.