Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Backstreet Cultural Museum In New Orleans

There are so many cultural treasures in New Orleans and one of my favorites is the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the Faubourg Treme. Faubourg is French for district or neighborhood outside of the city limits. The Backstreet Cultural Museum offers an extensive selection of Mardi Gras Indian suits as well as costumes worn by some of the original New Orleans brass bands and social aid and pleasure club members throughout the years.
Photographs, videos, collections and exhibits provide an inside look into the African American culture in New Orleans.

During my travels to New Orleans for Mardi Gras that year I was told about the museum by some hotel staff, so I decided to check it out. While I was there I was able to take pictures of some of the displays. Also I had the pleasure to be able to speak to the founder of the museum, Sylvestor Francis, who opened it's doors in 1999. Several years ago he was a member of the Gentlemen of Leisure Social Aid And Pleasure Club.

He originally started gathering collectibles from the Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands and social clubs. Because of his love of the African American Mardi Gras culture in Treme, he gave pictures to anyone who participated in parades that he photographed. He was rewarded for his generosity when people who he gave photographs to started giving him costumes, suits and keepsakes.

The picture below is of Sylvestor Francis in the museum.

He took time to discuss the museum displays and their history. Also he had me watch a documentary called "All In A Mardi Gras Day" which I purchased a copy of. It's a great reference for anyone interested in the African American Mardi Gras culture in New Orleans. It covers the Mardi Gras Indians, Zulu Krewe, Skull and Bone Gang and lots more.

Click here to view The Backstreet Cultural Museum website. You'll find information on exhibitions, community programs and hours of operation.

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did sharing it. Feel free to leave comments below.

Sondra Carpenter
The Mardi Gras Girl


  1. Very cool post, Sondra. I had never heard of the Backstreet Cultural Museum. New Orleans is a great place, for the culture and for the unique places and people that keep getting discovered. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. Anything else related to Mardi Gras that you'd like to see covered, please feel free to comment or send email, thanks.