The Black Parade Museum of Culture reopens in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS – Ten months after Hurricane Ida damaged a museum celebrating New Orleans ’African-American parade culture, the Backstreet Cultural Museum reopens.

A parade from the original building to the new museum a few blocks away in the Treme neighborhood is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.

The museum will now occupy a smaller place in an old bar, and not all items can be displayed at once, said Dominique Dilling-Francis, chairman of the museum board and daughter of the founder. She plans to rotate the exhibits every few months.

Hurricane Ida left holes in the roof and water inside the original building, a former funeral home, after the storm fell to the ground in August 2021. A powerful Category 4 hurricane when it touched down, Ida reached the same date as Hurricane Katrina had ravaged parts of Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier.


The museum’s artifacts include gifts given by Mardi Gras Indians, African Americans who create new costumes made with feathers and beads every year. There are also memories of dolls: groups of women parading and dancing with hats, garters and short dresses with ruffles. And there are black tracksuits painted with white skeletons by the band Skull and Bones, which wakes up the neighborhood early on Fat Tuesday with a message that everyone dies and must first have a loving, productive life.

The museum also has photos, movies, and papers related to such neighborhood traditions and is a place where masked and cheerful people gather for Carnival. Its founder, Sylvester “Hawk” Francis, created it in 1999 after decades of photographing and filming the culture of the neighborhood.


Although the benefactors paid for a canvas to be placed on the roof in the first place, it became clear that mold and moisture would eventually ruin the collection even though the window air conditioning units cool the place.

Dilling-Francis and the volunteers dried and packed everything to store it. She said she hopes donors will not be disappointed that her work cannot be on permanent display.

Dilling-Francis said individual donations and a grant from the New Orleans Tourism and Culture Fund helped reopen the museum, but she declined to say how much was given.

Starting this weekend, the new museum will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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The Black Parade Museum of Culture reopens in New Orleans

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