Capitol Park Museum
The Louisiana State Museum-Baton Rouge features thematic exhibits on the diverse aspects of Louisiana history and culture, including two permanent exhibitions, entitled Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation, and Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America.
Spanish Town Mardi Gras: 40 Years of Good Times and Bad Decisions
January 30 to June 21
Since the first parade in 1980, Spanish Town Mardi Gras has provided an alternative to more traditional carnival celebrations in Baton Rouge. While other groups may strive for beauty and grandeur, the Spanish Town festivities embrace the bawdy, the irreverent, and the scandalous.
Artifacts and images from the founders of Spanish Town Mardi Gras tell the story of how an informal neighborhood gathering became a city-wide celebration, boasting upwards of seventy-five floats, each accompanied by between thirty and fifty paraders and continuing past these 40 years.
Exhibit viewing with purchase of a museum admission ticket during regular business hours.
Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation shows Louisiana’s impact on the nation and the world. From the Louisiana Purchase to the critical role Louisiana played in our nation’s wars (including the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, the Civil War and both World Wars), you will come to understand the scope and importance of the historical contributions of Louisianans. A section on Governor Huey P. Long and jazz pioneer Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong showcases the larger-than-life personalities and accomplishments of two of the state’s most notable residents.
Displays also examine the Mississippi River, from its environmental significance to its role in commerce. Louisiana’s diverse wildlife, agricultural history and fishing and hunting traditions comprise the Natural Abundance feature. A detailed segment on the Poverty Point World Heritage Site in northeast Louisiana investigates these exceptional prehistoric American Indian earthworks.
Lastly, slavery and civil rights are explored, with an emphasis on the 1896 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Louisiana case that upheld the “separate but equal” practices of legal segregation despite the concerted efforts of Homer Plessy and other activists. This section ends with a look at the Baton Rouge bus boycott of 1953 and its role in the modern civil rights movement. Artifacts in Grounds for Greatness include a 42-foot wooden shrimp trawler, a Civil War submarine, a mid-1800s cotton gin and a sugarcane harvester.
Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America - Take a road trip through the state, exploring regional culture, religious practices, foodways and architecture. Another feature highlights the rich legacy of Louisiana music—jazz, rhythm and blues, blues, country, zydeco, swamp pop and Cajun music—and its global influence. Key artifacts include Clifton Chenier’s accordion, Buddy Guy’s polka-dot guitar and Webb Pierce’s stage costume, made by the famous Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. A final exhibition focuses on another cornerstone of the Louisiana experience, Mardi Gras, by exploring celebrations and traditions throughout the state.
Carrying on the Dream - Available until January 19, 2020
The Capitol Park Museum is honored to present the 1966 Cadillac Superior Coach hearse that transported the body of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. after his assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The hearse carried King’s body from the hospital to the funeral home and then from the funeral home to the Memphis airport where it was received by his widow, Coretta Scott King. King’s body was flown to Atlanta where he was eventually laid to rest.
The hearse will be on display in conjunction with the exhibition Carrying on the Dream .
Visitors can learn more about the history of the civil rights movement in Louisiana in the permanent exhibition, Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation, which is located on the museum’s first floor. Part this exhibition focuses on the Baton Rouge bus boycott of 1953, which King saw as a model for the Montgomery Bus Boycott that he helped organized in 1955.
School groups are welcomed and reservations are required. To make a reservation, call (225) 342-5414.