Brought to Louisiana in the 18th century by African slaves, Louisiana Voodoo, a.k.a. New Orleans Voodoo, has been a practiced religion in the state for centuries. While it’s estimated that approximately 60 million people practice voodoo worldwide, in 2014, there were around 2,500 and 3,000 practitioners in New Orleans. However, after Hurricane Katrina, that number is thought to have dropped to around 300 and has stayed there to this day. Nonetheless, voodoo still has a heavy influence within New Orleans (New Orleans: The City of the Dead.) and is featured prominently throughout the city.
Located within the famous French Quarter, at 724 Dumaine Street, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is an interesting place to visit. Open Monday – Friday, from 10am to 6pm, it costs $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, and military members. Truthfully, this museum was somewhat of a disappointment and wasn’t what I expected. I was anticipating historical artifacts, information, and other things you’d find in a museum. It was essentially a large voodoo shrine. It’s a small, 2-room building with one way in and one way out, down a narrow hallway, so be prepared to shmush yourself into the wall while passing people.
While I wasn’t exactly enticed, it’s still great to have visited, as it’s one of the very few museums in the world dedicated entirely to Vodou art. Opened in 1972, per the official museum website, their goal is to bring “a casual and curious experience intended to preserve the legacy of New Orleans’ Voodoo history and culture while educating and entertaining visitors“. The museum also provides a “Voodoo Cemetery Tour“, which will take you to Saint Louis Cemetery #1, where the famous voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried. It costs $32, is 2 hours long, and takes off at 9am and 12pm.
Both rooms in the museum were full of various voodoo shrines and artifacts, with zero information or context. There were shrines in the narrow hallway as well, all appearing to be active, growing shrines. These shrines consisted of everything you could think of, including: photographs, money (cash and coins), cigarettes, playing cards, beer, candles, I.D.s, beads, small bottles of alcohol, bones (🥴), clothing, hair-ties, buttons, bottles of medicine like antacid and Tylenol, jewelry, Chapstick and other makeup, flowers, lotions, baskets, hand sanitizer, perfume, skulls, various forms of Jesus, voodoo dolls, crosses, the Virgin Mary, sets of keys, and much, much, more…
Overall, we spent roughly 30 minutes in the museum, which I believe was an adequate amount of time. That may not sound like a lot, but as mentioned, it’s a very small museum and essentially a voodoo shrine. There is even an on-site voodoo priest to give readings. Nonetheless, I believe its worth a visit, as it’s great to educate yourself in different cultures practices and religions. So, given that it’s so small and and an easy outing, it’ll easily fit into any New Orleans travel agenda!