Among the beautiful preserved plantation homes you can visit in the greater New Orleans area, Whitney Plantation stands out. You don’t go there to marvel at the lavish lives of the slave holding white upper class. You don’t go to enjoy period architecture. You go to learn about the brutalities of slavery in the only plantation museum in Louisiana that focuses on the lives of the people enslaved, not the slave-holders.
“In 2014, the Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262 year history as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery.
Through museum exhibits, memorial artwork and restored buildings and hundreds of first-person slave narratives, visitors to Whitney will gain a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people.” (via the website)
I’ll include some videos at the end of this post to help you understand just how unique this is, but I will say that after two hours in the 90+ degree Louisiana sun learning about the horrors of slavery, I felt like I could have gone on another tour. Our guide was bold and unafraid to make strong statements about the realities of America’s first few hundred years. It was an incredibly powerful experience, and I would urge you to visit if you ever get the chance. You will not walk out the same. This place is not only a museum, but a memorial to the what we have done. In Germany, there are memorials to the Holocaust all over. But in the US, we don’t have memorials to slavery. Instead we have monuments to the people who fought to keep African Americans enslaved. The Whitney Plantation is doing something about this.
I can’t embed it, but I highly recommend this video about the Whitney Plantation from the New Yorker. You can also learn more about the museum from NPR, National Geographic, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]
My weekend trip to St. Louis last February turned out to be rather ill-fated. The drive was longer than I estimated, a bit too long to do by myself. On Saturday, as I was happily pulling up to the stunning Basilica (home of the 2nd largest church mosaic in the US), my camera battery died, and with no spares on hand, I was unable to take any pictures for the rest of the day.
However, before that, a friend living and St. Louis and I had gone to the City Museum, which is basically a multi-story building turned into a giant folk-art playground for kids and adults alike. I didn’t get many good pictures, but check out this video for a look inside. There are tunnels going between floors, a bus cantilevered off the ceiling, mysterious tunnels, a junk-metal slide going from the top of the building down, and all kinds of crazy art to climb in and on.
But Sunday morning, it started to snow while I was out in the city, and I got in an accident. My car just suffered a dent on it’s side, but it really shook me up, and I decided to head home early. Due to all the snow and ice on the roads all the way back, it took me a few extra hours to get back to Nashville, making it a 9-hour trip total. Ugh. Suffice to say, I have not taken a solo road trip above four hours since then. Before the accident, I made it to the Missouri History Museum, which was one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited (and free). I hope to get back to St. Louis soon. What I saw, I loved! But maybe I’ll go in the summer next time.
Here are a few photos I took on my phone of the Basilica, the interior of the City Museum, and the Arch.
I first visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis back in October 2015, soon after moving to Nashville. I went back a few months later. Both times, I felt like two hours went by too quickly and regretted not giving myself the whole day to spend in the museum. It’s one of the best museums I’ve ever visited (and I’ve gone to a lot). The exhibit design makes it a great experience for all ages, all races, and all levels of museum-going (from non-museum people to museum lovers). If you find yourself in Memphis, don’t miss it.
The Museums is built in and around the Lorraine Motel, the significant African American institution where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. After walking through the galleries that take you through African American history in the US from the trans-Atlantic slave trade to Black Power movement (and somewhat up to today), you end up looking through a glass wall into the room where MLK spent his last moment. It’s a really moving experience, to say the least.
[[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more photos of Tennessee.]