The Bayou Teche Museum covers just about every aspect of the history of New Iberia and the Bayou Teche region from sugar cane to religion. The museum first opened its doors in 2010 and as its marque states, “the industry, the people, the history” are its primary foci. The museum’s interactive exhibits allow its visitors to listen to music, view videos, and take a simulated elevator ride into a salt mine. The museum is located along New Iberia’s award winning Main Street and is currently open every Thursday through Saturday from 10:00-4:00.
The idea for
the Bayou Teche Museum was hatched by Paul Schexnayder and Becky
Schexnayder-Owens back in 1992 and they founded the New Iberia Museum
Foundation in order to turn their idea into reality. The foundation chose an historic building in
downtown New Iberia that served as a grocery and then a fur warehouse in the
1890s and, later, as a sports center in the 1930s to house the museum. The foundation has recently acquired another
building at the corner of East Main and Serret Alley and intend to use it as a
multipurpose facility complete with educational and community spaces and as
home to its research library and archives.
As for its
exhibits, the museum directs its attention to how the Civil War, education,
music, local politics, and religion impacted New Iberia and Iberia Parish. It also features exhibits devoted to two of
New Iberia’s more famous native sons, artist George Rodrigue and author James
Lee Burke. Rodrigue is known for his
paintings of Louisiana landscapes, Cajun culture and, of course, his famous “blue
dog.” The museum currently has 13 of his
works on display. Burke placed New Iberia
on the map, so to speak, with his Dave Robicheaux detective novels.
also has an exhibit dedicated to the Attakapas and Chitimacha Native American
tribes, both of which flourished in the area.
Yet another exhibit is devoted to shipwrecks that have occurred in the
Gulf of Mexico, with the most famous being that of the S.S. New York which sank
almost 200 years ago and was discovered in 1986.