The Cabildo

A visit to New Orleans’ historic French Quarter would not be complete without a stop at Jackson Square, which is where you will find the Cabildo. This elegant Spanish colonial building neighbors St. Louis Cathedral and houses many rare artifacts of America’s history.

Among them is Napoleon’s death mask, one of only four in existence. It was made from a mold crafted by Dr. Francesco Antommarchi, who was one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s physicians at the time of his death. 

Using a variety of artifacts, images and documents, the exihibition From "Dirty Shirts" to Buccaneers: The Battle of New Orleans in American Culture opens with an exploration of the battle’s history, emphasizing the diversity of its participants, and closes with an investigation of how the battle has been remembered, commemorated and represented. 

An 1839 self-portrait by Julien Hudson, is also on display. A free man of color, he was one of many during the antebellum period who worked as professional artists, writers and musicians in New Orleans.

Admissions

Adults - $6
Students, senior citizens, active military - $5
Children 12 and under - Free
Groups of 15 or more (with reservations) - 20 percent discount
School Groups (with reservations) - Free
Purchase tickets for two or more museums - 20 percent discount
AAA membership discount - 10 percent discount
Sales Tax - 5 percent on all admissions

Individuals with special needs are requested to contact Museum staff members to make other arrangements.

The Cabildo was built under Spanish rule between 1795 and 1799, following the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 that completely destroyed the structure that stood on the property. Designed by Gilberto Guillemard, who also designed the neighboring St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytère, the Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803, which finalized the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and doubled the size of the fledgling nation.

The Cabildo served as the center of New Orleans government until 1853, when it became the headquarters of the Louisiana State Supreme Court, where the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision originated in 1892.

The building was transferred to the Louisiana State Museum in 1908 and has since served to educate the public about Louisiana history.

In 1988 the Cabildo was severely damaged in an inferno and, within five years, the landmark was authentically restored with 600-year-old French timber framing techniques. It was reopened to the public in 1994, featuring a comprehensive exhibit on Louisiana’s early history.

This remarkable building’s tumultuous past is reason enough to pay it a visit, but the historical treasures within make it an absolute must-see.

Virtual Tour

Take a virtual walking tour powered by Google Street View.

First Floor

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Second Floor

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Third Floor

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