Louisiana offers cultural diversity in the city of Alexandria that makes for a great vacation destination. You will be pleased to find a wonderful zoo, museum of contemporary art and a history museum all within a few blocks of each other. It would be a wonderful cultural experience for the entire family with lots of fascinating exhibits that are both fun and engaging.
The Alexandria Museum of Art is the first place that shines with cultural diversity it is located at 933 Second Street (Main Street). Their mission is to preserve, exhibit and promote visual art that contributes to the quality of life in Central Louisiana. It includes Southern Art and promotes art education. They have 5,000 square feet of exhibition space rotating exhibitions from all over the world and exceptional contemporary artists. A gift shop is housed in the museum as well if you are looking for the perfect gift or souvenir from your vacation.
The museum features interesting exhibits like Selections from the Permanent Collection of Guild Hall Museum and Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust exhibit. Each offers unique specimens that tell a story worth experiencing. African-American Life exhibits containing works on paper and on fabric by such artists as Elizabeth Catlett and James VanDerZee are just some of what is in the collection of the costume designer and arts patron Mayrna Colley-Lee. But she is only allowing the museum to show the collection for a limited time.
The museums exhibits change throughout the year so check with them for what they currently have available. Annually in March during Youth Art Month the exhibits are geared more toward youth and their interests. They also boast a summer camp for children ages 6-9 from 9 am – 12 pm and children 10 + from 1 pm – 4pm. Each week they inspire artistic vision and expand their level of creativity.
Annually in September the call is out for all artists to participate in a national juried exhibition highlighting contemporary art practices in all media from around the country. Artworks selected by the year’s artist-juror will be featured in an exhibition at the museum in the heart of central Louisiana and be included in a full-color print catalogue. Total cash awards of $ 2000.00 will be allocated to juror-designated award winners. Artists must be over 18 years of age. All works must be original, completed in the last two years and created by the person entering. For more information you can contact the museum directly.
The Louisiana History Museum is the second place that offers cultural diversity and is located at 503 Washington Street just a few blocks from the art museum. It is dedicated to collection, presenting, and teaching the history associated with Alexandria and all of Louisiana. The current displays include Famous figures in Louisiana history, Stern Wheel Steam Ship “Red River” model, the Louisiana Purchase, Colonial Louisiana, the American Revolution, Famous Central Louisiana plantations, Central Louisiana in postcards, an original 1804 New York Herald newspaper that details the announcement of the Louisiana Purchase, Bells & Whistles display and much more. The admission is free and guided tours can be arranged for your family or group.
The Alexandria Zoological Park is the third place that offers cultural diversity and is located a bit further downtown at 3016 Masonic Drive. Their mission is to promote understanding and conservation of the natural world we live in with recreational and educational experiences while viewing an organized collection of animals. They are actively involved in conservation of endangered species and they are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for animal husbandry.
This is a great place to end the day after walking through museums and engaging in the more serious side of art and history. The park is a beautiful place to relax and often has events or festivals creating a wonderful diversion and a fun atmosphere for the entire family.
Not only are the animals beautifully cared for but they are encouraged to continue their natural behaviors through the ingenuity of hiding their food throughout their exhibit area and challenging the animal to work for the food by foraging like they would normally do in the wild. Creative habitats engage the animal and encourage them to explore and investigate their surroundings by changing the exhibit constantly throughout the animals stay.
What impresses me the most about this particular zoo is the way the animals are exhibited, it’s not just a row of cages but more of a tour through the natural habitat of the animals. If you are not careful you could forget you are in Louisiana and almost believe you are in the Land of the Jaguar! There are hundreds of animals on display including large cats, frogs, fish, beautiful birds, reptiles, monkeys and other mammals from all over the world. They feature a Louisiana Habitat, the Land of the Jaguar, an African Experience, an Asian Area and an Australian Walkabout. But I believe the most popular animal in the park is still the white Bengal tigers, they are truly incredible!
I hope you found this helpful and no matter if you are vacationing or live in Alexandria, I encourage you to get out and experience all the city has to offer. If you have already been to any of these places please share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you!