Visitors to downtown Baton Rouge are given access to the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum, Magnolia Mound, the LSU Museum of Art and Old State Capitol for free on the first Sunday of every month.
With most attractions only a short walk from each other downtown, an entire day can be centered around a fun, affordable outing.
“It’s been going on for 10 years, at least,” said Paul Arrigo, President and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. “The museums are relatively inexpensive to begin with, but I think the fact that they’re open to the public and free on that first Sunday is really significant.”
Arrigo, who has served in his position for over 20 years believes First Free Sunday is a great opportunity for locals and visitors alike to take in the sights of Baton Rouge.
The Louisiana Arts and Science Museum
Admittance to the museum costs adult patrons $12 if they aren’t visiting on the First Free Sunday. The museum is open from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.
The museum seeks to further the understanding and appreciation of art and science to the general public and features a wide array of exhibits, from Ancient Egypt to the Solar System and the cosmos.
Patrons admitted on the First Free Sunday will also have unlimited viewing access to the facility’s planetarium.
In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits, the museum is also featuring these changing exhibits:
In Empathy We Trust— An exhibit that reimagines the characters from iconic works of art history with different identities, races and genders; through October 30
Iridescence— As one’s perspectives changes, so is the color they perceive when something is iridescent; through July 31
Our Louisiana— A broad collection of items tied to Louisiana that ask, “what is art?”; through Jan. 14, 2024
As the only place not within walking distance of the other First Free Sunday venues, it should probably be done first or last.
Magnolia Mound is a special BREC park that used to be a 900 acre plantation. The park is open from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays and would usually cost adult patrons $12 for guided tours or $5 for a self-guided tour.
Once inside the park, visitors can explore the grounds and see the Historic House Museum, the Open-Hearth Kitchen, a Pigeoneer, Housing for Enslaved Families, the Overseer’s House and the three-seat Privy.
A rare example of vernacular architecture brought by settlers from France and the West Indies, the grounds hopes to illustrate the unique French-Creole culture which is definitive to Louisiana while also accounting and accrediting the generations of enslaved people that once lived on and labored the grounds.
The LSU Museum of Art at the Shaw Center for the Arts
The LSU MoA’s humble beginnings in Memorial Tower seem far-fetched compared to the floor they operate now.
The art museum is open 1-5 p.m. on Sundays and would usually charge adult guests a $5 entry fee.
Local artists are supported and showcased by the LSU MoA, but they also feature art of regional and national significance as the museum seeks to bolden Louisiana’s place in the wide world of art.
The LSU MoA is currently exhibiting:
Eugene Martin: The Creative Act— An exhibit that focuses on Martin’s unique brand of whimsical, automatist abstract art; through October 2
Art in Louisiana: Views into the Collection— The reinstallation of the museum’s signature exhibition has been on display since 2016, as different curators offer different views in the strengths of the museum’s collections; ongoing
The Louisiana Old State Capitol
The Old State Capitol is open to the public for free, year-round, not just on First Free Sunday.
Recently renovated, the Old State Capitol features a museum and preserved chambers for guests to inspect. A detailed Huey P. Long exhibit is one of the highlights of a visit.
Visitors can book tours of the Old State Capitol. Tickets for a special movie called “Ghosts of the Castle” are available for $3.
When going up the main staircase, don’t forget to look up into the beautiful stained glass skylight.
Arrigo recommends that students invite friends and family to take advantage of First Free Sunday when they’re in town visiting.
He said that the COVID-19 years were tough, but Baton Rouge is bouncing back.
The next free Sunday will be July 3.