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Old Arsenal Museum

Subject: History

Capitol Lake Drive, State Capitol Grounds
Baton Rouge, LA 70804

(225) 342-0401 | General Information
(225) 342-0401 | Reservations

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General Public Hours and Admission Rates: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00am- 4:00pm; $1.00 Adults, Seniors and Children under 6 years old Free. Students free. Chaperones of organized groups free.

School Tour Hours and Admission Rates: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00am- 4:00pm; Free

  • Student to Chaperone Ratio Suggested: 10:1
  • Advance Time Needed to Make Reservations: Reservations are not required, but a week’s advance notice is recommended.
  • Number of Students per Visit: Up to 35 at any given time. Larger groups will be split up and admitted successively.
  • Suggested Length of Time for Visit: 30 - 45 minutes per single tour
  • Handicapped Accessible: Yes
  • Grade Level Appropriate: 3rd – 12th
  • Lunch Facilities: Fast food and full service restaurants are nearby.
  • Gift Shop: No

  • Bus parking available

Tell Us About It!

Standing on the grounds of the new State Capitol building is the historic Arsenal Powder Magazine Museum. This 1836 arsenal building was re-opened as a history museum in the 1960s and was refurbished in the early 1990s with exhibits reflecting Baton Rouge’s military history with interactive exhibits and a host of stories that range from the 1700s to the present. This site holds historical traces of famous Americans including President Zachary Taylor, who served as commander of the Baton Rouge post, and leading generals including Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George McClellan, George A. Custer, and P.G.T. Beauregard. The site is one of four original arsenals and one of two remaining structures from the original garrison. The first powder magazine was built by the British around 1763, which was later held by the Spanish. The flag of the short lived Republic of West Florida (1810) flew from this site. Shortly after, the United States absorbed the territory and expanded the garrison. Civil War soldiers passed through the present arsenal leaving behind the still visible graffiti done by occupying Federal troops. LSU moved to the site in 1886 and left for the larger Baton Rouge campus in 1925.

What Can We See and Do There?

The Arsenal Powder Magazine Museum now stands on the manicured grounds of the State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge. The imposing 19th century powder magazine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site was of particular military importance because of its location on the Mississippi River for early settlements and later as the main defensive position of the southwestern United States. Visitors are welcomed by the museum staff who gives a brief orientation to the exhibits and an overview of the history of the arsenal. Students and their teachers are then free to explore the exhibits. Two hands-on puzzles involve students in discussing the original layout of the 11-building garrison and the present day State Capitol grounds, which were built over the original military complex. Cases with models of military structures and seafaring transport are enhanced with historical images and artifacts. Images and reproductions are used to tell the history of the 19th century United States southwestern forts. The arsenal building itself is a fascinating artifact built with 54-inch thick walls to contain potential explosions and the deep charcoal-filled basement that was designed to absorb moisture to keep gunpowder dry. The United States military located the powder magazine a far and safe distance from the Pentagon Barracks.

How Do We Get There?

From I-110 north, take Convention St. Exit 1-B and go west to River Road. Turn right and proceed to State Capitol Grounds. Follow signs to Arsenal Museum.

From I-110 south, take the Capitol Access Rd. Exit 1-E (Governor’s Mansion and Dept. of Transportation) and travel west to Capitol Lake Dr. Follow signs to Arsenal Museum.

Bad Weather! Now What Do We Do?

This field trip takes place in an indoor climate-controlled museum.

Louisiana State Educational Benchmarks and Standards
  • K – 4th grades: ELA-4-E6; C-1C-1E; H-1A-E1,2,3
  • 5th – 8th grades: C-1B-M2; H-1A-M1,2,3; H-1B-M9,12
  • 9th – 12th grades: H-1A-H1,2,3; H-1B-H2,4,5; H-1C-H9,10
What Can We Do In Class Before Our Field Trip?

Visit the museum’s web site, www.sos.louisiana.gov/museums and take the brief virtual tour. Read about the historical military figures that visited or worked at this arsenal powder magazine.

S-T-R-E-T-C-H Out Your Field Trip Benefits

After your visit to the old arsenal take a short walk and see the original Pentagon Barracks which were at one time part of the same 19th century military garrison. Read the in-depth November 25, 2002 newspaper article about the arsenal’s history at www.2theadvocate.com.


Louisiana history, American history, Baton Rouge history 


Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

• National Park Service affiliate
• "Passport to Your National Parks" Program
• Member of Alliance of National Heritage Areas
National Park Service Affiliate Louisiana Travel - Pick Your Passion Alliance of National Heritage Areas