New Orleans has a reputation for being mysterious and unusual, and in a city of wide and eclectic tastes, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum fits right in.
The small museum has been inviting its visitors to experience mysticism and the occult for almost half a century. It was founded in 1972 by Charles Massicot Gandolfo, a local artist with a passion for all things voodoo—his nickname would become “Voodoo Charlie.”
The museum focuses on what is commonly known as New Orleans Voodoo, or Louisiana Voodoo. New Orleans voodoo is an amalgamation of African and European influences that blended within the cultural melting pot of New Orleans. Originally brought to the city in the early 1700s through the African slave trade, Louisiana Voodoo blends together influences from multiple cultures. It is one of many incarnations of religions rooted in West African Vodun, with elements of Louisiana’s Catholic and Francophone culture.
The tenets of Louisiana Voodoo include recognition of one God, who does not interfere in daily life, and spiritual forces that do. These spirits can be kind or mischievous, and followers can connect with them through dance, music, and singing. Snakes are a common motif in Louisiana Voodoo, as they represent Legba, a spiritual conduit between heaven and earth.
A plethora of interesting objects and artifacts fill the museum, including antique voodoo dolls, taxidermy, talismans, and even the kneeling bench that once belonged to the famed Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. (Visitors can also depart here for a tour of the St. Louis Cemetery, where Ms. Laveau is entombed). As a voodoo priestess, her magical powers were legendary. However, there may be another explanation of her fame: She was rumored to run one of the most popular brothels in New Orleans.
Beyond its collection, the museum also offers items for sale, such as chicken feet, snake skins, potions, books, and candles. Guests who want the full voodoo experience can even have their fortune told by on-staff practitioners.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. It's open on most holidays. The cost is $8.00 for general admission, $6.00 for seniors, military, and students.