From the elaborate gowns and costumes to the colorful krewes and parades, there is a mystique surrounding Mardi Gras.
Even if you cannot attend any of the festivities that lead up to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), you can learn more about the history and pageantry regarding this annual celebration year-round at various Mardi Gras museums throughout the South.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu
The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu houses the largest display of Mardi Gras costumes in the South. Around 280 costumes on display at all times, and details the history of Mardi Gras in the area.
Currently, the museum is undergoing renovations and is scheduled to reopen in mid-to-late 2022; however, the exhibit is on loan at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum through March 27. View costumes, shoes, crowns, masks, krewe banners and more.
Wed. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $5 for adults, $2 for seniors, ages 60 and older, $2 for children, ages 17 and under, $3 for military and free for students with ID, ages 19 and up.
Bossier City, Louisiana
Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Museum
The Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Museum shows off over a decade of Mardi Gras in northwest Louisiana. View displays of costumes, memorabilia and parade floats.
Call 318-741-9264 to arrange an appointment to tour.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Capitol Park Museum
The Mardi Gras section at Capitol Park Museum provides a general overview of Mardi Gras and highlights how parishes throughout the state celebrate.
Tues. – Sat., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. $7 for adults, $6 for students, senior citizens and military, free for children, ages 6 and younger.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World
Wonder what it takes to construct the elaborate Mardi Gras floats and whimsical props? Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World invites you to go behind the scenes on a self-guided tour to see how artists turn concepts into creations.
The experience at Mardi Gras World begins with a short video on the history of the celebration and a sample of King Cake.
Mon. - Sun., 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., with the first admission beginning at 9:00 a.m. and the last at 4:30 p.m. $22 for adults, $17 for seniors, ages 65 and up, and students; $14 for children, ages 2 - 11.
Learn about the celebrations and rituals that make up Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras: It's Carnival Time in Louisiana, one of two permanent exhibits at The Presbytère.
Climb aboard a parade float, see the different throws, learn about Mardi Gras music and more.
Tues. - Sun., 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (last ticket sale at 3:30) $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, military and students, free for children ages 6 and younger.
Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum
The Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum, on the second floor of Arnaud's Restaurant, is named for the daughter of Count Arnaud.
The museum provides an intimate look at the grandeur of Mardi Gras, with exhibits highlighting over two dozen elaborate costumes, vintage photographs, Carnival masks and krewe invitations.
Open to the public during restaurant hours. Free.
Backstreet Cultural Museum
Temporarily closed, but possibly reopening soon in a new facility.
Local photographer Sylvester Francis has curated a vast collection of Mardi Gras items associated with the African American community in the Big Easy. On display includes everything from Mardi Gras Indians costumes to artifacts related to jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs and more.
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture
Opened in January 2017, the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture features the private collection of Carl Mack, owner of Carl Mack Presents, an entertainment and costume providing company.
Enjoy the craftsmanship of various costumes representing Kings and Queens, Mardi Gras Indians, Walking Clubs, Cajun Mardi Gras and more. Don't miss the Costume Closet, where you can dress up in costumes, wigs, crowns and tiaras, masks and beads.
Sat., 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., with guided tours at noon and 2 p.m. Fri., Sat., and Mon., open for tours only at 2 p.m. $15 admission
House of Dance and Feathers
Located in the Lower Ninth Ward, the House of Dance and Feathers, started by life-long resident, Ronald Lewis, could be described as a living history museum. The collection celebrates the significance of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, and Skull and Bone Gangs. But, more than just displays, Lewis intertwines personal stories with each item represented.
Be sure to check out his book, The House of Dance and Feathers: A Museum by Ronald Lewis that discusses the cultures and communities of New Orleans.
Call 504-957-2678 to schedule a visit. Free, but donations are appreciated.
Described as an experiential pop-up, JAMNOLA celebrates Crescent City's vibrant art, music, food and cultural scenes through colorful interactive exhibits crafted by 20 local lead artists.
Within the 12 rooms of the 5,400-square-foot space, you'll discover plenty of photo opportunities in the Mardi Gras-related areas like "The Beads Go On," "Umbrella Strut," and "Costume Closest."
Mon. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thurs. 2 - 7 p.m., Fri., 2 -9 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., and Sun., 10 a.m. -7 p.m. $29 for adults, $20 for children, ages 3-12, students, ages 19 and older, seniors, 55 and older, military, teachers and first responders (students, seniors, military, teachers and first responders must present a valid id.)
Three of Antoine's private rooms are named after krewes: Rex, Proteus and 12th Night Revelers. The walls of each room are decorated with photographs and various memorabilia from throughout the years.
Call 504-581-4422 to arrange a private tour of the restaurant.
Slidell Mardi Gras Museum
Located on the second floor of the Slidell Museum is the Slidell Mardi Gras Museum. It features various artifacts from costumes to throws to scrapbooks of past kings and queens.
Tues. and Wed., noon-4 p.m., Fri., 10 a.m. -4 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Free.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum
Inside the historic train depot is the Bay St. Louis Mardi Gras Museum. View displays of over a dozen intricately-designed costumes.
Mon. - Fri., 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Sat., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Free.
Coastal Mardi Gras Museum
From the krewes to the costumes and everything in between, the Coastal Mardi Gras Museum highlights what's involved in making Mardi Gras along Coastal Mississippi memorable for participants and visitors.
Tues. - Sat., 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. $ 8 for adults, $7 for senior adults and military, $5 for children, ages 12 and younger.
Mobile Carnival Museum
The birthplace of Mardi Gras is home to the Mobile Carnival Museum. Housed in the historic Bernstein-Bush mansion, the museum details over 300 years of celebration in the city through photographs, gowns, costumes and other Mardi Gras-related pieces.
Mon., Wed., Fri., and Sat., 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. $8 for adults, $6.00 military, students with ID and senior adults, $3 for children, ages 12 and younger.
photos, personal collection