Here are 12 museums in New Orleans you can check out (without leaving the couch)

Stuck in our homes, the city’s cultural organizations could have closed their doors and waited for this crisis to pass. Instead, they’ve done the opposite, by virtually opening their doors.

by Matt Haines
March 26, 2020

New Orleans is home to an incredible portfolio of museums and arts institutions. I know, I know — when we’re presented with festival after festival, we don’t always spend as much time as we’d like exploring exhibits and galleries. But this COVID-19 pandemic is allowing us to rethink how we use that time.

Stuck in our homes, the city’s cultural organizations could have closed their doors and waited for this crisis to pass. Instead, they’ve done the opposite.

“There are a lot of people out there feeling anxious right now, and for good reason,” says Erin Greenwald, vice president of content and editor in chief for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ magazine 64 Parishes. “Part of our responsibility as a humanities institution is to educate and enrich the lives of Louisianians. We take that role seriously. While folks stay at home, we want to give them comfort and something enjoyable to do.”

Many of New Orleans’ museums and cultural institutions agree and have worked on overdrive to bring their invaluable content to us in innovative, virtual ways.

We’ve been in search of ways to relax, learn and grow during self-quarantine and perhaps there’s no better way than to “visit” a museum. Here is a list of our recommendations, along with what kind of programming they’re offering during these unique times.

Amistad Research Center

This center of research and learning on Tulane’s campus is committed to collecting, preserving and providing open access to original materials that tell the story of America’s ethnic and racial history, the African Diaspora, human relations and civil rights. Fortunately for us, they’ve been able to maintain open access to a notable chunk of their collection even during this crisis.

Check out their digital collections and projects page, which will introduce you to the 15 different projects the Center has digitized for your use ranging from oral histories of the Treme to an archive documenting the history and sound of New Orleans hip-hop and much more!

They’ve also created Amistad on the Go! — a free, interactive, digital education program designed by the Center and aligned with the Common Core standards for grades 6 through 12. Each lesson uses sources from their collection to create humanities- and arts-centered activities on themes such as Slavery & Abolition, the Reconstruction Era and the modern Civil Rights Movement.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

THNOC is a museum, research center and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South, and they’ve got plenty to keep you busy while you’re at home.

Go to their website to find virtual exhibitions on the famous singing Boswell Sisters, New Orleans’ role in the domestic slave trade, what shopping was like in the city from 1825 to 1925, and 20 women who changed New Orleans. They’ve also launched History from Home in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which provides educational resources for families, research tools for students and scholars, as well as stories from the archive. They’re updating the page regularly, so check back often.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The magazine 64 Parishes is the quarterly publication of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and features decades of articles, encyclopedia entries, videos, podcasts and more — all free and focused on Louisiana’s unique history and culture.

Taking in all their immense archive has to offer would take you months, but they’re also producing new coronavirus-focused content that can help put the current pandemic into context. An article by New Orleans-famous geographer Richard Campanella is a great place to start.


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Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

Our very own Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra has hours of content online including musician interviews, memorable performance of the past, concert previews and their Uniquely New Orleans series with The Historic New Orleans Collection. Check them out! (And also check out this video on Instagram by a stay-at-home orchestra a few members of the LPO recently performed with — it’s amazing).


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Louisiana State Museum

Tens of thousands of photographs, paintings, crafts, oral histories and much more are available for your perusal at the Louisiana State Museum. The museum’s digital library has them categorized by subject, so click here and dive in!

National World War II Museum

It’s not just one of the top museums in the city, it’s one of the top museums in the country! And they have plenty online to keep you busy. Start with their page dedicated to the museum’s digital content, where you can find recorded stories from those who served in the war, as well as thousands of incredible World War II-era photographs.

The museum also offers boatloads of educational resources for students, teachers and parents, and a video library of more than 200 public programs available for stream on demand. Videos include sessions at international conferences, author discussions and electronic field trips.

Newcomb Art Museum

This Tulane University art museum is a treasure to visit, and that remains true online. You can enjoy thousands of pieces from nine different collections, or you can take a look at 18 current and past exhibits and virtually walk the gallery. One great place to start is the Tulane University Art Museum’s founding collection.

Per(Sister) was one of Newcomb’s most successful exhibitions, telling the stories of 30 formerly incarcerated women in the New Orleans area. The museum is posting weekly videos to their Vimeo page remembering these powerful works of art.


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New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute

NOCHI is keeping us occupied and learning with their Cooking in Quarantine sessions every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. Meetings are described as “office-hours-meets-supper-club,” take place on Zoom and are all “pay-what-you-can.” Whether you want to spark inspiration from your quarantine pantry, plan healthy and flavorful meals, get your kids involved in the kitchen or master a cooking technique you’ve always wondered about, you won’t want to miss these hangouts.

You’re encouraged to stick around for the entire session or to come and go as you please. This is a chance to cook, learn and connect with your community.

New Orleans Museum of Art

This City Park gem provides a multitude of ways for us to stay engaged. They’ve partnered with Google Cultural Institute to provide virtual tours of the museum with new content being added each week, and the mobile guide is another way to view art from your home.

NOMA’s YouTube channel offers dozens of curator-led gallery talks, artist perspectives, interviews and panel discussions, and Instagram and Facebook update you on highlights from the gallery each day. Their newsletter will keep you focused on where new content pops up!

New Orleans Public Library

It would take me three full articles to describe everything our public library offers residents online. Virtual story time, live online tutoring and these just-for-kids e-resources can all be useful to our city’s students.

E-books, e-magazines and e-audiobooks, as well as the streaming of songs, music videos and movies are all available here. And, seriously, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Go to their website and begin to peruse what’s possible (The answer: everything!).

Don’t have a library card? No problem. You can apply for a temporary one here.


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New Orleans Jazz Museum

The New Orleans Jazz Museum has more than 10,000 photos and other collection items in their digital library. They’re also got thousands of recordings in virtually every format ever used! The jazz collection is a great place to start, but don’t stop there.


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Ogden Museum of Southern Art

The Ogden has been working hard to get content from their museum online for fans of southern art to enjoy. You’ll find it all on this page, which includes live online programming, a virtual look at their exhibitions, updates from their blog and more. New content is added regularly.

A great place to start is their Art + Zen Online Museum Meditations. The 30-minute sessions take place at noon on Wednesdays and allow participants guided meditation in front of a different work of art each week.

Photo courtesy Crista Rock/Ogden Museum of Southern Art


New Orleans’ museums and institutions are doing their best to take care of us during this challenging time. If you enjoy their content and if you have the means, consider donating to your favorites to ensure they can continue to provide us with the history and culture we love long into a time when COVID-19 is a thing of the past.


Cover photo courtesy Crista Rock/Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Matt Haines lives in New Orleans and writes about all the cool stuff. Visit his website Follow him on Social Media: FB: matthaineswrites TW: matthaineswrite IG: matthaineswrites

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