LAKE CHARLES, La. (April 17, 2023)—Mardi Gras plays a significant role from historical and cultural perspectives for Southwest Louisiana. The original Mardi Gras Museum provided a space where people could experience the magic of Mardi Gras year-round from 1998 until the devastation in 2020 caused by Hurricane Laura. To advance the museum into the future, community leaders and the Mardi Gras Museum board of directors announce the proposal for a new Mardi Gras Museum to be built in the heart of the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District at 641 Enterprise Blvd.
Following the storms of 2020, Visit Lake Charles applied for a grant on behalf of the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to secure funding from the competitive American Rescue Plan’s Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program. The museum project was awarded a $1.6 million matching grant to build a new museum to entice more tourism and interest in the Lake Charles area.
“Prior to the hurricanes, the Mardi Gras Museum was a must-see attraction for visitors and travel writers. The EDA’s program was a perfect solution to bring the museum into the future as a standalone attraction. The location near Interstate 10 will make the museum more highly visible and drive more visitation into the community. This is a big win for Southwest Louisiana,” said Kyle Edmiston, President/CEO of Visit Lake Charles.
The current proposal calls for additional financial support from Visit Lake Charles, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, and the City of Lake Charles to partner with the $1.6 million grant from the EDA. The Mardi Gras Museum board will also launch a necessary capital campaign for additional financial support for the project.
“The City of Lake Charles has worked diligently over the years to bring more vibrancy into the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District. The Mardi Gras Museum will be a premier cultural attraction in this district with easy access for those traveling to and through Lake Charles. With year-round exhibits and programming, this will be a true cultural hub encouraging visitation and economic growth for the district,” said Mayor Nic Hunter of the City of Lake Charles.
The plans for the museum include a 6,000 square foot one-story museum with versatile applications. This project will also help kickstart an economic revitalization for the entire area as part of the SWLA Community Foundation’s Just Imagine SWLA Resilience Master Plan.
“It is exciting to see positive growth and movement happening in the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District. People have worked hard to build up the area, and an attraction of this magnitude will be a game changer,” said Luvertha August, Lake Charles City Council Member.
The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu was founded by Anne Monlezun in 1998 and was originally located inside Central School Arts & Humanities Center, which was impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020. The contents of the museum have been in storage since 2020.
“The Mardi Gras Museum once housed the most Mardi Gras costumes in the Gulf South, and it was a beacon for visitors and residents to experience Mardi Gras magic year-round. The new museum will be more versatile and allow for more programming and creativity in a space specifically created to showcase the artistry and traditions of local krewes,” said Monlezun.
Eddie Lewis, Jr., Calcasieu Parish Police Juror states: “We are fortunate to see the Mardi Gras Museum locate on Enterprise Boulevard. The museum will bring more revenue to the area through residents and tourists wanting to see such a significant piece of our cultural on display.”
Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Mike Smith also commends the endeavor as it will elevate Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana and help generate visitation.
“The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury is looking forward to seeing the Mardi Gras Museum come back to life, thrive, and place a spotlight on Mardi Gras traditions in Southwest Louisiana. This museum can spark interest from people from outside of the area when it comes to the Mardi Gras season in Calcasieu Parish, and we are fortunate to have been awarded this competitive grant from the EDA,” said Smith.
For more information on Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana, go to www.swlamardigras.com.