Louisiana State Exhibit Museum entryway signage

The Louisiana State Exhibit Museum at a Glance

Remember in Shreveport-Bossier When…?

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Unique in both its massive circular layout and its world-renowned dioramas, and acclaimed for its huge fresco and Native American artifacts, the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum (LSEM) houses many dynamic collections and rotating exhibits that offer insight into the history and culture of Louisiana and beyond. The Museum is a major attraction in Northwest Louisiana, the state and the Ark-La-Tex and has been so since it opened in 1939.

  • LSEM presents historical exhibitions and public programs for people of all ages and ethnicities. Designed to be of interest to the entire family, the Museum’s murals and exhibits relate the story of Louisiana’s great natural resources, agriculture, industry and history. Noted for its distinctive architecture, the circular building reflects the Modernist style and incorporates Colorado marble and Texas granite throughout its interior. Architects were Edward F. Neild, D.A. Somdal and Ed F. Neild, Jr., all of Shreveport.

A Smithsonian Institution & on National Register of Historic Places

Smithsonian Affiliations logoThe Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also the only public museum in Louisiana honored as a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. This distinguished designation allows the Museum to have access to the traveling exhibits and educational research services of the Smithsonian Institution.

Open Monday – Friday & Accessible

Admission and tours are free and there is ample free parking space available. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The Museum is a part of the Louisiana State Fair. Access to the Museum is via the Fairgrounds entrance during the run of the Fair each Fall. Check the Museum calendar for our regular and holiday schedules as well as for exhibits and events. An auditorium with a spacious stage and a seating capacity of 330 is used for special programs and is available for meetings during the day and evening. The building is wheelchair accessible.  The museum will be closed to the public September 23 - September 27th for a private event.

A State Facility on the State Fairgrounds

The LSEM and its remarkable gardens sit on six acres of state land at 3015 Greenwood Road in Shreveport, Louisiana, adjacent to the State Fairgrounds. It is funded and operated by the office of the Louisiana Secretary of State with all special exhibitions and many special events made possible by the fundraising activities of the Friends of the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum. The facility, a Public Works Administration project, was first named the Louisiana State Exhibit “Building.” The land on which it was built was donated to the state by the City of Shreveport. Locate LSEM at Map to Museum.

The Massive Fresco—You Can’t Miss It

The fresco at the main entrance, by noted artist Conrad Albrizio, sets the mood for what visitors will see inside—a glance back to earlier methods of industry and agriculture that sparked the economy of the state and the Ark-La-Tex during the 1930s. At the left of the entrance, a woman stands before images of widespread agricultural activity from the southern part of the state, in addition to landmarks such as the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. At the right of the entrance, a sturdy lumberjack, who represents North Louisiana’s vast timber industry, stands before a background of the Long-Allen Bridge over the Red River in Shreveport-Bossier City, the Caddo Parish Courthouse and other attractions. The massive four panels that occupy 700 square feet of wall space are considered to be among the most important paintings in the South. See more about The Fresco.

Dynamic Dioramas Delight

The 22 world-renowned dioramas present “Louisiana in Miniature.” Forming the highly detailed dioramas are figures and animals as well as farm equipment, machinery and reproductions of crops. Louisiana artists painted backgrounds and master model builders worked under Director E.J. Whetzel and diorama artist Henry B. Wright. Each individual diorama depicts some aspect of Louisiana’s agriculture, technology and natural resources, representing activities common to the state economy during its Depression and Post-Depression eras. No matter how often they visit, guests discover new insights as they consider the various scenes. See more about The Dioramas and diorama photos courtesy of Charles Goodrich.

It’s the biggest! The Rotunda Map of Louisiana

Located inside the building’s entrance is another wonderful example of art created with New Deal funds:  the largest topographical map of Louisiana, located in the building’s rotunda. The sunken, circular map, which measures 49 feet in circumference, was created by internationally noted sculptor Duncan Ferguson. Visitors can peer over the rails and discover the state’s highest point—Mount Driskill—and its lowest elevation near the Gulf of Mexico. The map has been part of the Museum since it opened and has been recently restored. See more about The Rotunda Map.

West Wing Gallery, Ancient Canoe, Collections & More

Newly renovated Poverty Point Gallery is a historical room of various artifacts and a large diorama of Louisiana’s Poverty Point archaeological site. Among the treasures in the Clarence H. Webb Gallery is a 31-foot Caddo dugout canoe, the largest ever found in North America. Pottery and artifacts made of stone, wood, copper and shell by Louisiana’s Native American tribes, including the Caddo Nation are on display. LSEM serves as a repository for an extensive Native American collection of basketry, pottery and lithics from Louisiana tribes and includes artifacts from archaeologist Dr. Clarence Webb’s excavations. The Museum also houses a natural history collection of wildlife, seashells, fossils and geological formations. Smaller collections include agricultural tools, firearms and military memorabilia. Visitors will also enjoy the exhibits in showcases in the center of the circular hallway, in wall cases or standing alone. Traveling exhibits rotate regularly, including Smithsonian exhibits, and historical murals adorn the corridor walls.

Amazing & Educational Gardens & Grounds

An amazing group whose members collaborate with the Friends of LSEM—the Landscape and Grounds Advisory Committee—makes possible five gardens on the Museum’s six-acre grounds. There are the Native American Garden, the Medicinal Garden, the Rotary Garden, the Courtyard Garden, and, climbing the main entrance gate, the Dunn Rose Garden. Volunteers maintain the gardens while the Friends purchase plants and other garden needs. See more about LSEM's Gardens & Grounds.

Abuzz with Students—Myriad Educational Activities

LSEM is an incredible cultural and educational resource for our community. Each year more than 42,000 children from area schools visit the Museum and take part in tours, self-guided tours and specific interactive programs. Pre- and post-visit materials are available to teachers as they and their students participate in our educational programs. The Friends of LSEM furnish various free program materials. A new program related to Louisiana history is designed for eighth graders.

It’s Your Museum—Community & Individual Events Welcome

The Museum is a wonderful facility with a friendly staff and is available to those seeking a unique and inspiring location for a meeting, luncheon, reception, seminar, reunion or other special event. See details and photos at Your Museum Event.

Friends of LSEM—The Movers & Shakers Who Help Things Happen

Chartered in 1982 with a primary mission of providing financial and volunteer support, the Friends bolster the Museum in three main areas: traveling exhibits, educational programs and landscaping. For the some three decades, the Friends have provided all of the funding for nationally recognized exhibits—from The Louisiana Purchase and King Tut to the Pulitzer Prize Photographs, Smithsonian Gems of Desire and Norman Rockwell. Consider becoming a member and see more About the Friends and Friends in Pictures. The Friends' major fundraiser is Glitz & Grits, an every-other-year event featuring exhibits, music, food and fun.

We’re In the News

LSEM and its exhibits and attractions are frequently in the news. Read and see the latest news items at In the News and in our quarterly newsletter Friends of LSEM News.

Charlie Bob the Alligator—Now at Home at State Fair

Charlie Bob the alligator was once the resident of the center courtyard. The Museum pool was his home for almost 50 years and he was the subject of a long-running preschool program. For a time, a second alligator named Samantha lived with Charlie Bob in the courtyard. After Samantha’s death, Charlie Bob was moved to the State Fair. He is missed here at the Museum and he remains the most-asked-about-feature by returning Museum visitors. Charlie Bob can still be viewed by the public during the Louisiana State Fair, which is held each year in late October and early November.

For Further Information, to Join the Friends, Volunteer or Contact Us

For further information, to become a Friend of LSEM, to volunteer or to contact us, call 318-632-2020 or email info@FriendsofLSEM.com.