The Cabildo Museum

Located in historic Jackson Square next to the landmark St. Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo was built by the Spanish in the late eighteenth century to serve as the headquarters of their operations in New Orleans. In the approximately 225 years of its existence, The Cabildo has functioned as a colonial outpost, government building, state courthouse, and for the past century, as part of the Louisiana State Museum. Visitors to The Cabildo today may tour a variety of educational exhibits while encountering numerous important artifacts drawn from throughout New Orleans’ remarkable history.

Money Saving Tip! The Cabildo is included on the Go New Orleans Pass as well as the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass. If you are sightseeing in New Orleans, then you can save a lot of money with a pass.

The Cabildo Museum History

The Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 was an utterly disastrous event that leveled much of the existing city, including the original Cabildo. In the wake of this tragedy, the Spanish—who at the time controlled New Orleans—made the decision to build a new Cabildo. Designed by Gilberto Guillemard, the same architect responsible for St. Louis Cathedral and The Presbytère, this second Cabildo was completed in 1799. It was in this new structure that the Louisiana Purchase ceremonies were conducted in 1803.

For the next half-century or so, The Cabildo was the site of Louisiana’s state government, until it transitioned to being the home of the state’s Supreme Court. In 1908, the Louisiana State Museum took control of the property, and it has in one capacity or other ever since then served as a place to educate the public about the region’s rich history. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and extensively damaged by another fire in 1988. The restored facility stands today as a proud reminder of all the city has experienced.

What’s at the The Cabildo Museum

As a prime branch of the Louisiana State Museum, The Cabildo is home to several fascinating permanent exhibits. We Love You, New Orleans! is the most recent offering to debut here. Designed in honor of the city’s tricentennial, this powerful exhibit tells the story of New Orleans through a collection of remarkable artifacts that memorialize its unique contributions to the world—think jazz, Mardi Gras, and more.

From “Dirty Shirts” to Buccaneers: The Battle of New Orleans in American Culture is another one of The Cabildo’s popular permanent exhibits. It contains interactive panels and informative displays that provide insight into the role this famous battle played in shaping the future of not only this diverse city, but the United States of America itself.

Throughout the entire facility, visitors will encounter historic spaces well worth exploring in detail. The room where the Louisiana Purchase was completed is an essential destination. Likewise, guests won’t want to miss out on coming face to face with priceless pieces of history such as Napoleon’s death mask and Eugene Louis Lami’s iconic 1839 painting The Battle of New Orleans.

The Cabildo also routinely schedules special programming. Whether it’s a guest lecture, yoga class, live concert, or temporary traveling exhibit, you never know just what might be happening at this historic site when you’re planning to visit. Be sure to check out their official website for a calendar of events that’ll grant you some insight into what might be happening here next.

Tips for Visiting The Cabildo Museum

  • The Cabildo is open Tuesdays through Sundays between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm. Last admission each day is at 3:30pm, and the attraction is closed on Mondays.
  • Visitors with small children in tow will want to inquire about The Cabildo’s educational materials. Upon request, free books and lesson plans are available for the little ones.
  • Speaking of the little ones, children under the age of six years old are admitted here free of charge.
  • Given its prominent location in the French Quarter, a trip to The Cabildo can easily be combined with a visit to multiple other nearby attractions. This is something to keep in mind as you plan your outing.