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Exhibits range from traditional to offbeat


NEW ORLEANS—When you think of New Orleans culture, jazz and nightlife may be the first things that come to mind. But the city also has several first-rate art and history museums, and even a few odd, small museums you might not find elsewhere.

One of New Orleans' newer attractions is the National World War II Museum, founded by historian and author Stephen Ambrose and located on Magazine Street near the Central Business District. The museum's exhibits range from replicas of a D-Day landing craft and a German command post on Normandy beach to oral histories of soldiers fighting in the European and Pacific theaters. The museum also has a theater offering daily showings of two war documentaries, including one produced by Mr. Ambrose and director Stephen Spielberg. Open Tuesday through Sunday, the museum charges $14 for adults, $8 for students and $6 for children five to 12.

Though located in City Park, which was mostly submerged by Hurricane Katrina's floods, the New Orleans Museum of Art is now open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. "Femme, Femme, Femme," an exhibit open through June 3, includes 83 paintings of women in French society by Daumier, Manet, Degas, Picasso and other artists. The museum's gallery of Faberge eggs and jewelry reopened in February, and its sculpture garden is also now open. Tickets for "Femme, Femme, Femme" for non-Louisiana residents are $15 for adults and $10 for children, and include general admission to the museum. Louisiana residents receive a discount. General admission alone is free for Louisiana residents, $8 for non-Louisiana residents and $4 for children.

The Louisiana State Museum comprises five historic buildings in the French Quarter, including the Cabildo, or town hall, built in the late 1700s when the city was under Spanish control. Exhibits at the Cabildo cover 200 years of Louisiana history, from the Native American tribes living in the area before French settlers arrived, to the defeat of the British in the Battle of New Orleans to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for students and free for children under 12, and includes the Presbytere, built as a residence for Capuchin monks and located on the opposite side of St. Louis Cathedral from the Cabildo.

Three other historic buildings that are part of the state museum--the Old U.S. Mint, 1850 House and Madame John's Legacy--a house that survived the 1795 fire that destroyed much of the French Quarter--are closed because of Hurricane Katrina damage.

If you're interested in smaller, more offbeat places, try the Musee Conti Wax Museum in the French Quarter, where you'll find Frankenstein's monster, Jelly Roll Morton and even Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, the founder of New Orleans. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for children aged four to 17.

Then there's the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, also in the French Quarter, which aims to "preserve the rich history of pharmacy and health care in Louisiana." One upcoming exhibit--unfortunately opening too late for RIMS--is "Aqua Vitale: The Spirited History of Alcohol as Medicine." Hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students and free for children under six

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