Heart of Louisiana: Capitol Park Museum

Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 9:45 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - If you want to get a quick overview of Louisiana, its history, cultures and music, there is one museum that takes you on a whirlwind tour of the state in a couple of hours.

It was more than two centuries ago that Louisiana added the 18th star to the flag. But the state’s history dates back thousands of years to its first people.

Louisiana’s flagship museum is located only steps from the state capitol in Baton Rouge.

It’s two floors of exhibits brings you up close to a real 50-foot shrimp trawler. You can also stand alongside stalks of sugarcane and the life-sized harvester.

“The whole idea of the scale, the fact that the stalks of sugarcane are taller than you, and that the things that harvest that are massive two-tory machines,” Rodneyna Hart.

You take a walk through history seeing the state’s involvement in wars from The Revolution, the Battle of New Orleans, The Civil War, Mexican-American War and the 20th century World Wars.

A Civil War submarine was displayed in New Orleans for years, but it has been restored and moved here.

“They scuttled it after the war because they didn’t want that technology in the hands of the Union soldiers,” says Hart.

The museum takes you inside a slave holding cell which includes an original door. You hear the whispers of enslaved people.

“Don’t take my children from me.”

But when you see the march towards civil rights from the setbacks of Plessy v. Ferguson and Jim Crow to the sit ins and the nation’s first bus boycott...

“It’s more of a triumphant story. It’s more understanding that through our difficult histories, we come out with a much better and richer future.”

You tour the state region by region and see its diverse landscapes, fascinating cultures, its unique traditions and the music. The music blares from an invitation dance hall.

“That’s the fun part. That’s my favorite part. Whenever we have kids here at the museum because they always do a little jig in there and that’s always a great thing.”

As we walked around the museum, it’s a great way to get just this overview to discover areas that you may not be familiar with and kind of use this as a starting point for figuring out what you want to explore.

“Exactly. Our museum is kind of a survey of the state and it takes some of the best things from everywhere and really tries to emphasize why it’s so important to the nation. As a whole.”

You can experience a firey speech of Governor Huey P. Long who took his populous style to the U.S. Senate.

“And the only difference that I’ve found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of them was skinning from the ankle up and the other from the ear down,” says Long.

That speech came only a few years before Long’s assassination and it’s one of the countless stories on display at the Capitol Park Museum where you are surrounded by the history and diversity of the Bayou State.

The Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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