Baton Rouge – Art and History in Louisiana
By Marieve Herington
The city of Baton Rouge was exactly what I expected from Louisiana’s capital city: It was the perfect place to learn about the state’s culture and history – and to experience it firsthand. From fine arts to carefully preserved history, Baton Rouge is full of fascinating cultural attractions.
Capitol Park Museum
We began our day at the enormous and modern Capitol Park Museum, right across the park from the Capitol building and set on the Mississippi River. The museum was so fascinating and engaging with its presentation of Louisiana history and culture. On the ground floor, I learned about Louisiana’s rich history through videos, audio re-enactments and historical artefacts. Upstairs was dedicated to current Louisiana culture and featured vibrant Mardi Gras displays. Capitol Park Museum is the perfect place to be introduced to the state’s culture, and it made my trip to Baton Rouge that much more enriching.
Shaw Center for the Arts
Our next stop was the Shaw Center for the Arts, just 10 minutes from Capitol Park. This multi-use arts complex in downtown Baton Rouge is a fantastic place to view art exhibits and to see music, dance and theatre performances. Here, we browsed the LSU Museum of Art on the building’s fifth floor, which houses about 3,500 historical and contemporary art pieces. We also took a trip up to Tsunami Sushi, on the top floor of the complex, which has a fantastic view of the Mississippi and is the perfect place for a drink before or after a show.
Magnolia Mound Plantation
Our last stop of the day was the historic Magnolia Mound Plantation, which was built in 1791. It was once a 200-person, 900-acre operation that stretched all the way to the banks of the Mississippi River. Here we visited the large, French Creole main house, with the beautiful period furniture and historical artefacts both of local origin and from France, where the plantation owner had family. We also saw the slave quarters with their simple furnishings, and my favourite, the open hearth kitchen, a separate kitchen from the main house to reduce the risk of fire. It was so interesting to see all the tools they used in place of our modern day appliances (it took five hours to prepare breakfast!) and learn from the tour guides which fireplace was used to cook each food item.
Magnolia Mound is near the campus of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, so a trip to that beautiful campus should also be on your list of sites to visit while in the city. The university has some beautiful, stately buildings and calming natural scenery – a wonderful way to end a busy day in Baton Rouge.
This visit to Baton Rouge allowed me to experience Louisiana’s culture and history and to enjoy learning about this exciting city’s past, present and future including the arts, dining and much more.