This museum opened its doors on January 8, 1891, making it the oldest operating museum in the state of Louisiana. After the end of the American Civil War, it was built as a place where former Confederate soldiers could meet and hold veteran’s association evenings, as well as preserve relics. Today it’s home to the second largest collection of Confederate artifacts in the world, and includes artifacts and stories that many people might dispute or find troubling.
Among the relics that make up the museum’s permanent collection are weapons, uniforms, flags, portraits, and personal effects such as chess sets and eating utensils. Some of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee’s personal effects are in the collection. Many of these items in were donated by the soldiers who used them, and up until the 1920s, veterans would volunteer at the museum, and tell visitors firsthand what it was like to have fought at the battles of Shiloh, Manassas, and Gettysburg.
When it first opened, the museum was called “Confederate Memorial Hall: The Battle Abbey of the South.” The name has changed several times since then, and curators have tried to make the museum a more inclusive place to learn about Civil War history.
New Orleans was once the largest city in the Confederacy, and over the last few years, the city’s government has begun to remove and relocate many of its Confederate monuments. The Confederate States of America was established in February 1861, but never recognized by any other government or nation. Its constitution legalized and protected slavery. Civil rights advocates have supported the removals, while critics have claimed the city is erasing its history. Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans, stated at the time that the removals were about “showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile—and most importantly—choose a better future.”
Know Before You Go
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 14 years old.