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Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center

Subject: History

315 N. Main St.
Opelousas, LA 70570-6201

(337) 948-2589 | General Information
(337) 948-2589 | Reservations
(337) 948-2592 | Fax

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General Public Hours and Admission Rates: Monday – Saturday, 9:00am – 5:00pm; Free
Donations accepted

School Tour Hours and Admission Rates: Tuesday – Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday 10:00am – 3:00pm; Free

  • Student to Chaperone Ratio Requested: 10:1
  • Advance Time Needed to Make Reservations: One week
  • Number of Students per Visit: Up to 75
  • Suggested Length of Time for Visit: 45 minutes
  • Handicapped Accessible: Yes
  • Grade Level Appropriate: K – 12th
  • Lunch Facilities: Fast food can be purchased nearby.
  • Gift Shop: Yes
  • Bus parking available

Tell Us About It!

Opelousas is the seat of government in St. Landry Parish. In St. Landry Parish, musicians call their accordions “squeeze boxes” and play raspy rhythms on their washboards called “frottoir.” Welcome to the birthplace of Zydeco! The Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center is the repository for the Zydeco Archives Program started in 1996. The archives contain audio and video live-taped recordings, interviews, print media, photographs, and artifacts from the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival, now known as the world’s largest Zydeco Music Festival. The museum’s main exhibit room chronicles the pre-history and history of the people of Opelousas. Starting with exhibits about Paleo-Indians the displays feature the settlement and cultural growth of the area and continues to current times in the Hall of Fame.


What Can We See and Do There?

The intimate setting of the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center encourages young students to focus on the varied displays. Tour guides lead students through the ancient history of Southwest Louisiana, through European settlement, and through the Civil War. Students learn how Opelousas played an important role during the War Between the States as the capital city of Louisiana after Baton Rouge fell to Federal Troops. A recreated barber shop and 19th century domestic artifacts show students how much life has changed over the past two centuries. The hallmark of Opelousas is Zydeco, and it is one of the featured cultural highlights at the museum. French songs filled with sad stories keep fans two-stepping and waltzing. “Oh mon, les haricots (Zydeco) sont pas sale,” is a cry to chase the blues away, telling of times so hard there was no salt to pour over the snap beans. “Send salt, dear Lord, or send another ‘LaLa’ to dance these bitter blues away.”


How Do We Get There?

From I-10, exit I-49 north to Junction Hwy. 190 west. Turn right at the third traffic light, Union St., and turn left on Littell St. The museum is on one block down on Main St.

Bad Weather! Now What Do We Do?

This museum provides an entirely indoor experience that is climate controlled.

What Can We Visit Nearby?

Le Vieux Village; Tony Chachere’s Seasoning Mix Plant; Opelousas Welcome Center with the Jim Bowie Display; Fireman’s Museum

Louisiana State Educational Benchmarks and Standards
  • K-4th grades: G-1B-E1-4; H-1A-E1-3; H-1B-E1-2; H-1C-E1-4
  • 5th-8th grades: G-1B-M2-4; H-1A-M1-6; H-1B-M1-3, 5, 9-13; H-1D-M1, 3-4, 6
  • 9th-12th grades: G-1B-H-1-4; H-1A-H1-6; H-1B-H1-2, 3-5
What Can We Do In Class Before Our Field Trip?

Visit the Zydeco Photo Gallery at www.zydeco.org/archives/html. Then turn on the Zydeco radio station or play some music in class. Listen for the varied instruments. Studying history? Look at a map of Louisiana and locate all the places that have been our capital city. Why do you think Opelousas was selected during the Civil War?

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

It’s music making time. Young students will enjoy thimbles and a washboard to keep the beat to Zydeco music. Don’t stop there! It’s time to learn some two-step dances. Great illustrated instructions are at www.tabasco.com . Teachers can request a museum staff member to bring an artifact-filled trunk to their classrooms.

INSTRUCTIONAL CONCEPTS

Louisiana history, Zydeco music, Louisiana cultural heritage 

 

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 Gulf Coast States Geo-Tourism