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The House of Dance and Feathers

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Ninth Ward
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Address: 1317 Tupelo Street, New Orleans, LA 70117
Phone Number: 504 957 2678
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Description:

House of Dance & Feathers is a cultural museum based on Ronald Lewis'...

House of Dance & Feathers is a cultural museum based on Ronald Lewis' participation in the culture of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs & Skull and Bone Gangs. Opening hours are informal, so please telephone ahead to make an appointment.Ronald: I was working on my Mardi Gras Indian costumes for the Choctaw Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe I helped start in the Lower 9th Ward. While I was working on the suits, I had feathers and memorabilia all over the house. I came home one day & everything was in my backyard. My loving wife (who we call Minnie) said "I can't take this no more. You've got to find something to do with this." I moved the artwork into the shed and started putting up my various artifacts. The children in the community started calling it a museum and I gave it a name, "The House of Dance & Feathers", which means second lining and Mardi Gras Indians. I was at the point in my life where, "Okay, I can make a Mardi Gras Indian costume, but I want to educate the world about our great culture, how we do this, and why we are so successful at it even though the economics say we ain't supposed to be." Ronald created the museum in 2003, and then once again rebuilt in the wake of Katrina in 2005. Based at Ronalds house on Tupelo Street in the Lower 9th Ward, The House of Dance & Feathers is a unique experience as Ronald Lewis weaves his personal stories into each artifact in the museum and encourages a dialogue with his guests, so no two visits are ever the same. Although you'll arrive a stranger, you'll almost certainly leave as a friend.As well as being the museum's director and curator, Ronald W. Lewis, is the president of the Big Nine Social Aid & Pleasure Club, former Council Chief of the Choctaw Hunters, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame inductee, 2008 King of Krewe de Vieux and a central character in Dan Baums best seller, Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death and Life in New Orleans.

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Best collection in NOLA

There is so much to see in this collection - infinitely detailed Mardi Gras Indian parade costumes, ossified wine bottles, collections of shoes from the Muses parade, photographs... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed 1 week ago
Courtney H
,
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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23 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

There is so much to see in this collection - infinitely detailed Mardi Gras Indian parade costumes, ossified wine bottles, collections of shoes from the Muses parade, photographs of different chiefs, elaborately feathered second-line umbrellas...and so much to learn from its host, the gracious Mr. Ronald Lewis, whose formidable knowledge of the neighborhood and its traditions bring the smallest element... More 

Helpful?
Thank Courtney H
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2016

Ronald Lewis, the founder and keeper of The House of Dance and Feathers is an incredible storyteller, activist, and artist who guides you through histories of New Orleans. From the devastation, injustice, and community action resulting from Hurricane Katrina to a colorful and thoughtful explanation of Mardi Gras Indians, everything we learned enthralled and inspired us. His collection is breathtaking... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank Talya A
Edenbridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
73 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2015

We were brought here on the excellent Lower 9th Rebirth bicycle tour run out of the Confederacy of Cruisers cycle shop. Mr Lewis is a fascinating character with so much history and so many stories that he can totally captivate you for a long, long time. Yes the 'museum' is essentially an outbuilding in his yard piled high with artefacts... More 

Helpful?
Thank BenP35
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2015 via mobile

It's really difficult to put into words just how cool this place is. Not only can you learn about the culture of the Mardi Gras Indians and African American Social Clubs, but you get to learn the history of the Lower Ninth community pre and post Katrina. Ronald has story upon story and is willing to share each and everyone.... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank Andrew J
Netanya, Israel
Level Contributor
17 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2015

Well it was a teeny bit hard to find and a little bit out of the way deep in the 9th ward. The proprietor was an interesting character who has collected every article in there or had donations from personal friends. His knowledge of New Orleans, black culture and native American interactions with black history in Louisiana was incredible. The... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank tricia s
Miami, FLorida
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2015

When visiting New Orleans, take a break from the typical Bourbon street dining and drinking activities and enjoy some real cultural Louisiana history and stories from one of the most amazing people I have ever met. His stories will fascinate you. His memorabilia from Mardi Gras ( The Second Line) parades will amaze you and his pictures and real life... More 

Helpful?
Thank ashleychloetravels
Austin
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2015

This is basically one man's tribute to the endangered culture of the Mardi Gras" Indians" from the 9th ward. He gathered up many relics after the storm and put them into a "museum" in his backyard, which he runs with his two adorable granddaughters. The owner, Mr. Lewis, is himself part of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition going back many... More 

Helpful?
Thank GringatravelerAustin
Rancho Santa Margarita, California
Level Contributor
27 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2015

We were honored to be able to visit this national treasure of a museum in the backyard of Ronald Lewis. He has showcased the amazing heritage and culture of the Mardi Gras Indians through costumes, photos, books and more. Everything from parade throws, hand beaded costumes worn by the Indians to samples of the food and water provided to them... More 

Helpful?
Thank Karen M
Dunedin, Florida
Level Contributor
37 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2015 via mobile

Ronald Lewis is the most engaging host and his collection of artifacts, as well as his stories and photos of his time with the Mardi Gras Indians is a fascinating piece of New Orleans history. There is no fee to enter, but donations are helpful!

Helpful?
Thank JessieMom
Galveston, Texas
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2015

I was so happy I took my family here. It is the most real experience you will have in NOLA. Mr. Lewis is an incredible wealth of knowledge of Mardi Gras and New Orleans history. Great artifacts you can touch and really experience. I highly recommend visiting. There is no fee but whatever donation you want to make.

Helpful?
Thank IslandDad77554

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Staying in Ninth Ward

Neighborhood Profile
Ninth Ward
People focus too much on the hardships so closely associated with this well known working class neighborhood when what’s really most remarkable about the tightknit community is its indefatigable spirit of rebirth and ability to stay true to its roots. Perhaps not an ideal destination for those visitors who tend to keep well within their comfort zones when traveling or those with bucket lists filled to the brim with top tourist attractions, the Ninth Ward is nonetheless there for those who are most keen to discover the places they encounter. But it’s not all about learning lessons when going to the Ninth Ward. With its “Living Museum” and “steamboat houses” and a long enduring dedication to preserving local culture, there’s more than enough to see and do during a daytime tour of the area.