Backstreet Cultural Museum (Tremé) – “They don’t do this nowhere else but in New Orleans”

Front view of the Backstreet Cultural Museum. C. Nelson, 2011.

Fi Yi Yi, Wild Magnolias, Creole Wild West, Congo Nation, Wild Tchoupitoulas, Black Seminoles, 9th Ward Hunters, 7th Ward Hard Headers, Flaming Arrows, Black Eagles, White Eagles, Red Hawks Hunters, Golden Comanche, Wild Bogacheeta…

New Orleans is home to one of most interesting and relevant museums the 106thstreeters have experienced. Located in Tremé, the Backstreet Cultural Museum (BCM) is home to the best collection of “costumes, artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, films, and other materials important to New Orleans’ African American culture.” Both a museum and an archive, it opened in 1999, when you visit the museum and are one of the lucky to be guided through the museum by Executive Director and founder Sylvester Francis, you know right away that he’s been actively preserving this culture for much longer. An absolute walking encyclopedia of the history of Mardi Gras Indians, Skull and Bone Gangs, Baby Dolls, Jazz Funerals, Second-Line, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans, and New Orleans African American history and culture, Francis mixes his first hand experience, years of knowledge, and love of his city with warmth and accessibility, making the time you spend at the museum unlike any other museum experience. We left the museum with an even deeper appreciation of New Orleans culture (we were already in awe of it) and had an unforgettable experience learning about it. With the birthplace of Jazz, Congo Square (now within Louis Armstrong Park), just a few minutes walk away, we left BCM with our minds full and heavy, ready to explore this great city–a city unlike any other. Below are photographs of just a few of the collections at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

Masking, Mardi Gras Indians, at Backstreet Cultural Museum.

Big Chief ? at Backstreet Cultural Museum. If you know the Big Chief, let us know! It IS pretty.

Suit from one of the members of a Social Club. Suits are designed every year and are singular and unique.

Cherry. A tribute to her life.

A remembrance of Mona, who died very young.

Ernest Kador, aka, singer Ernie K-Doe!

Ernie K-Doe life-size doll with his wife (pictured), who would bring “him” with her to events, out to dinner, and more. You have to be in awe of this.

Tremé Sidewalk Steppers.

Here’s some Ernie K-Doe just in case you need some lemonade…

This entry was posted in Culture, Road Trippin' and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Backstreet Cultural Museum (Tremé) – “They don’t do this nowhere else but in New Orleans”

  1. Ben Sandmel says:

    Great post about the Backjstreet Museum, I enjoyed reading it. Thought you and your readers might be interested in new book about Ernie K-Doe — , published by the Historic New Orleans Collection ( ) — All best, Ben Sandmel

    some reviews of Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans —


    L.A. Times:,0,5787915.story

    USA Today: ; photo gallery:,+Emperor+of+New+Orleans/G3909

    Living Blues: , page 56

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