Carnival Up Close


by Dominic Massa

Posted on December 16, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 24 at 10:28 PM



If you’re looking to catch the Carnival spirit and can’t wait until the parades roll, there are several local museums and research facilities where you can explore the history, traditions and fun of the celebration year-round.

Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World

- 990 Port of New Orleans Place, on New Orleans Riverfront near Morial Convention Center

- 504-361-7821

-As their advertising campaign states, this literally is “where Mardi Gras is made.” This year-round attraction recently moved to the east bank riverfront, after decades in Algiers near the studios and dens where Blaine Kern, his family and artisans create floats and props for krewes and events here and around the world. Mardi Gras World gives visitors and locals an up-close look at the making of Mardi Gras, and its history and traditions. Tour guides will show you the spots where Carnival floats and props are designed, produced and housed.

Historic New Orleans Collection

-533 Royal Street


-The Historic New Orleans Collection is home to volumes and volumes of material relating to south Louisiana and New Orleans history, including Carnival. While there is no permanent display of Carnival memorabilia, the Historic New Orleans Collection does include many priceless Carnival photographs and sketches, writings and pieces of memorabilia, which can be viewed with assistance from the collection’s research staff.

Tulane University Library Special Collections

-Jones Hall, Tulane University campus



- Tulane University’s library is home to a large collection of Carnival memorabilia, in the form of parade bulletins and invitations, float and costume sketches, ball favors and other krewe memorabilia. Their web site features a fascinating online exhibit of some of the collection’s holdings.

Louisiana State Museum

-The Presbytere, Jackson Square



-The Presbytere’s massive exhibit on Carnival history: “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana” offers a well-designed and historically accurate look at many aspects of the Carnival celebration, from its earliest beginnings to the traditions of masking and parading to Carnival balls and the Cajun Courir du Mardi Gras celebration.

New Orleans Public Library Louisiana Division

-Main branch, 219 Loyola Avenue

- 504-596-2610

-The Louisiana division of the New Orleans Public Library maintains an extensive collection of Carnival memorabilia. Several historic photographs and parade sketches are included on its web site. The library’s hours and services may be limited by the impact of Katrina, so it’s best to call ahead before visiting in person to view or study the Carnival holdings.