Despite its original purpose of housing clergy, the Presbytère served as a both a commercial building and home to the lower Federal courts until 1834, and then it served as the home to the Louisiana Supreme Court until 1853 when Cathedral officials sold the Presbytère to the city. The building again changed hands in 1908 because New Orleans sold it to the state, which fostered its new purpose as the Louisiana State Museum, opening In 1911.
The building received National Historic Landmark status in 1970. In 2005, the cupola, lost in the New Orleans hurricane of 1915, was replaced atop the Presbytère.
The principal goal of the museum involves a demonstration of two facets of New Orleans life; both centered on the idea of survival, whether it be through human strife or that of natural disasters -- hurricanes. The first permanent exhibition is titled, Mardi Gras: It's Carnival Time in Louisiana. The festival's musical expression, Middle Ages roots, and historical traditions are all explored in the exhibit. The second exhibition focuses on the many hurricanes that have affected New Orleans, notably Hurricane Katrina. The display enjoys a title, Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond.