7 museums for offbeat exploration this summer

Several locations offer the quirky, offbeat and interesting.

New Orleans is home to several popular and acclaimed museums, but the city is also a weird place with several oddities and strange stories. Summer presents a good opportunity to venture more on the unusual side.

We rounded up some offbeat museums to consider visiting in and around New Orleans.

Abita Mystery House

The Abita Mystery House, also known as the UCM Museum, is known for its quirky exhibits and weird creations. Inside the folk art museum, guests will find thousands of strange things and homemade inventions like a UFO crash site and a bassigator. Visitors can find the roadside attraction in Abita Springs. Owner and artist John Preble says he wants that “oh my” from his visitors, and there’s plenty of that waiting inside. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3. Here’s a preview inside.

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Photo courtesy: Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Southern Food & Beverage Museum

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB) features exhibits spotlighting the food and drink culture of the South. Inside you’ll get to explore the life of entrepreneur and Popeyes founder Al Copeland, learn how red beans became so popular and see items curated from food meccas around the South. The site is also home to the Museum of the American Cocktail where you can brush up on your cocktail history. The museum also hosts several events like cooking classes and food competitions. Museum hours are Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. SoFAB is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is $10.50 per person for adults and $5.25 per person for students, military and seniors ages 60+. Childen under 12 enter free with an adult.

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Photo courtesy: New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Stories of questionable medical practices during the infancy of modern medicine surround this mid-19th century apothecary. The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum features exhibits showcasing weird medicines and voodoo potions. The museum is also located at the apothecary shop of America’s first licensed pharmacist. Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors and free for children under six.

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Photo courtesy: Pixabay

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Learn more about the mystery and secrets that surround the Voodoo culture inside this French Quarter museum. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum covers everything from legends of Voodoo Queens to folklores of rituals. In addition to museum tours, the museum also offers cemetery tours, where you can visit the tomb of “New Orleans Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau. Guests can even find out how to take part in psychic readings, special gris-gris and ceremonies upon request. The museum opens daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission is $7.

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Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture

Most people know about Mardi Gras World, but there’s also another museum where you can see an interesting part of Carnival. The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture located in the French Quarter offers a fascinating up-close look at costuming during the Carnival celebration. Not only do you get to see these beautiful displays of artistry, but you also get to learn about the culture behind them. Inside there’s an interactive exhibit called “The Dressing Room” where visitors get a chance to try on some of these amazing pieces. It is a whole lot of fun for both adults and children. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday with daily tours at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. General admission is $12 and tours start at $15, with discounts available for Louisiana residents. Here’s a preview inside.

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Photo courtesy: House of Dance & Feathers

House of Dance and Feathers

The curator at this cultural museum preserves the traditions of Mardi Gras Indians, social aid and pleasure clubs and Skull and Bone Gangs for generations to come. Plus, its right in the director’s backyard in the Lower Ninth Ward. Now that’s a true piece of New Orleans. Here you’ll see several conversation pieces that showcase everything from the elaborate art form of masking to the political origins of social club parades. You may even get to hear some personal stories from the director. Since the House of Dance and Feathers is located in the director’s backyard, all visits are by appointment. So make sure to call before arrival; they’ll make arrangements for you to visit. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

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Photo courtesy: Pixabay

Angola Museum

The Angola Museum is the only prison museum in the country operated within an active prison. The museum features exhibits which include handmade contraband weapons confiscated from inmates, the stories of former wardens, cell blocks and the original electric chair. The museum opens Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free.

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