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Museums that Would Only be Found in New Orleans

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If you are one who avoids museums, finds them stuffy, old and boring, I have a few unique museums that might just change your mind. These are museums you would only find in a unique city with a strong sense of place like New Orleans. Give it a try, read this list and see if something catches your interest.

1. The Pharmacy Museum

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, "La Pharmacie Francaise,” at 514 Chartres Street was constructed in 1823 for Louis Dufilho Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S. The building itself is lined with hand-carved rosewood cabinets made around 1860, cabinets that house apothecary bottles that were filled with leeches, bloodletting devices, pharmacopoeias, and antique prescription files. Also on display are surgical instruments used during the Civil War, nineteenth century cosmetics, and more. Tools of the apothecary, such as a mortar and pestle, are also on exhibit. The very brave can study 200 year-old dental instruments (and we think we have it bad now!).

There is also the Rosenthal Spectacle Collection, which illustrates the historical development of eyeglasses and other antique vision aids from around the world. Not to let you forget where you are, there are some jars with labels (Love Potion No. 9) that are distinctly voodoo-esque in origin. And just in keeping with "American" tradition, there is an old-fashioned soda fountain.

The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., from Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for students and senior citizens.

2. The VooDoo Museum

The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is the only voodoo museum that we know of, and of course, it has to be in New Orleans--the perfect place to explore the Voodoo religion and practices so intimately associated with the city. Voodoo as practiced here is a mixture of cultures, including those of Africa, the Caribbean nations, and Haiti, all incorporated with Christian traditions.

The museum is located at 724 Dumaine Street, between Bourbon and Royal. It is open seven days a week from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. The local number is 504-680-0128. Here, you can separate fact from movie fiction in this small museum. The gris-gris and ritual room contains an real altar dedicated to the voodoo god Exu, the guardian of the crossroads. Many other authentic voodoo artifacts are on display, including old voodoo dolls, African masks and headdresses, and sculptures. You can't miss Baron Samedi, a skeleton, who is considered to be a loa or spirit messenger.

3. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum

This museum is dedicated to celebrating southern food and drink. This regional museum opened in temporary headquarters in 2004, and has found a permanent home at the New Orleans Riverwalk Marketplace.

Wine glasses, oyster plates, cooking implements, and all objects connected to Southern cooking and cuisine will be collected and displayed here. Linens, photos, business ledgers--all are sought to be gathered into this unique exhibit. Again, this new museum is looking for donations and submissions.

The Library collects cookbooks from all over, including community or specialty cookbooks. It also features books on things Southern, such as southern agriculture,hunting,etc., as well as all food related books. The library hopes to be the "most complete document of contemporary Southern foodways and drink." Strange diet and other idiosyncratic books or booklets are also sought after and treasured.

4. Museum of the American Cocktail

Of all the interesting museums around town, one of the most unique has to be a salute to the cocktail. Here in New Orleans, the cocktail is considered by many to be the quintessential drink that defines the city's personality. From the famous Hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's, to the traditional Sazerac, to the simple martini, New Orleanians embrace the cocktail as a lifeline to civilization. What better place to celebrate its history than here? Located in the Southern Food & Beverage Museum at the Riverwalk Marketplace: 1 Poydras Street • Suite 169 New Orleans, LA 70130 504-569-0405 Open Mon-Sat 10 to 7, Sun.12 to 6 • $10.00 admission (Use Julia Street entrance, go up escalator, we're located just inside The Southern Food & Beverage Museum)

5. The Louisiana Children's Museum

The Louisiana Children's Museum has been designated the top-rated children's museums of all surveyed by the U.S. Family Travel Guide in 2004. Located at 420 Julia Street, it is now amusing and teaching a second generation of New Orleans children, as well as little visitors coming in for a cool afternoon of fun and games. There is a miniature grocery store where the kids can shop, a studio where they can learn to be news anchors, a cafe where they can play waiter or guest, a towboat to pilot down the Mississippi, and many more hands-on activities. At Eye to Eye, they can learn to understand the concept of vision when they step into a giant eyeball. Then they can be the doctor or the patient at the eye clinic. The Museum is currently open from Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays from noon to 4:40. p.m. Regular admission is $7.00 for adults and children, children under age 1 are free.
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