Explore America: Louisiana

Discover Louisiana in the Smithsonian collections. The state is a gumbo of varied cultures, predominantly Cajun—people whose ancestors were French-speaking Acadians from Canada—and Creole, which includes those with French, Spanish, Caribbean, African, and Indian heritage. Louisiana’s rich cultural diversity has shaped everything from its cuisine to its music to its more than 400 annual festivals and famed Mardi Gras celebrations.

The Smithsonian collections reflect that diversity, including portraits of Louisiana musicians and singers, such as Lead Belly, Mahalia Jackson, and Louis Armstrong. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings celebrates the breadth of Louisiana’s musical traditions, including Cajun, zydeco, Louisiana blues, New Orleans jazz, brass bands, and Mardi Gras music. Depictions of everyday life, ancient Indigenous artifacts, John Audubon’s famed bird illustrations, and more, show the variety of humans and wildlife that have long found home in the cities, towns, bayous, and swamps of Louisiana.