Museums

Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Baton Rouge.

9. LSU Museum of Art

British and American art comprise the bulk of this impressive museum's collections, and most items date from the 17th century forward. Among the permanent holdings are silver, glassware, furniture, ceramics, and lighting, accompanied by a good supply of prints and paintings. The sensuous shapes of Newcomb Pottery vessels are also one of the museum's sources of pride. Temporary exhibits include everything from stone carvings to pottery and Native American art.

8. Enchanted Mansion Doll Museum
Photo courtesy of Enchanted Mansion Doll Museum

Doll collectors and young girls will be delighted by this establishment, whose stately, colonnaded building offers a variety of beautifully crafted dolls in both created environments and display cases. Victorian examples, contemporary creations, and wonderful doll-company lines are all available for browsing, and many come complete with period costumes and exquisitely rendered faces. Brides, presidents' wives, and Lee Middleton collectibles are also represented. On Thursdays, an afternoon tea is hosted by the museum.

7. West Baton Rouge Museum

Just a few minutes from Baton Rouge proper, this educational museum offers a glimpse of life on a 19th-century sugar plantation. Visitors can browse a French-Creole home, the cabin of plantation slaves, and view a model of a sugar mill, which processed cane into the final sweet product. Artifacts, tools, and other period items complete the picture of plantation life, and guides offer stories and narration about the era as well.

6. LSU Rural Life Museum and Windrush Gardens

Illustrating Louisiana's pioneering and agricultural past, this informative museum showcases architecture, implements, and cultural practices of recent centuries. The Folk Architecture arena features simple, traditional structures built primarily for utility, while the Barn displays tools and artifacts used by Native Americans, early settlers, and rural inhabitants. The Working Plantation, then, consists of a cluster of dependencies representing various aspects of plantation life, including a kitchen, commissary, and blacksmith's shop. During the year, the museum hosts programs illustrating old-time domestic practices, and nearby Windrush Gardens highlights typical plantation flora and the work of its landscape architect owner. Self-guided tours.

5. Louisiana State Museum

Located on the corner of North 4th and Spanish Town Road and across from the Capitol Gardens, this museum's permanent exhibits emphasize the facets of Louisiana's history that are significant on a national level, as well as those aspects of the state's culture that are unique. A large gallery displays changing or traveling exhibitions.

4. USS Kidd and Nautical Center

Paying tribute to Louisiana natives who have fallen in battle, this ship and nautical complex offer a variety of wartime artifacts and mementoes. The USS Kidd, known as the "Pirate of the Pacific," has been restored to WWII-era condition and invites folks to walk its decks and explore its quarters. The Nautical Center houses military aircraft, an extensive collection of model ships, and other memorabilia. In the vicinity is also Louisiana Memorial Plaza, which displays the names of fallen veterans of American wars.

3. Old Arsenal Museum

Constructed in 1838, this museum was originally a powder magazine, used to store ammunition in Louisiana's early days. Set along the Mississippi, it was an important structure for the protection of the early settlement. It was even captured by Union forces during the Civil War. Escaping demolition several times, the arsenal was finally rescued in the 20th century and transformed into a museum. Inside its walls, visitors can browse displays on the city's military history under Spanish, French, and American control.

2. Louisiana Art and Science Museum
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Art and Science Museum

An abundance of culture lies ready for exploration at this terrific museum, which couples art and science in an impressive, historic depot set along the Mississippi. Permanent and temporary art collections go hand-in-hand with interactive galleries where children can delve into scientific principles, a center for space discovery, an exhibit on ancient Egypt, and a hands-on play area for young kids. The planetarium offers films and programs on the universe, and the whole experience is supplemented with a variety of workshops, lectures, and special events.

1. LSU Museum of Natural Science

Intended to collect and document specimens from the natural world, this museum and research facility offers a wealth of information on Louisiana's native wildlife. Many of the holdings are displayed in naturalistic cases for visitors to peruse. Additional collections represent reptiles, birds, mammals, archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology. The facility also makes its 2.5 million specimens available to scientists and scholars across the country. Established in 1936.