Backstreet Cultural Museum
On Mardi Gras morning, crowds gather outside the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the historic Tremé neighbourhood hoping to see an Indian emerge. Each year, the African-American members of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes sew elaborate costumes overflowing with beads and brightly coloured feathers. With no fixed route and no schedule, even locals are lucky to find a tribe walking the streets. At the Backstreet Cultural Museum, however, you are guaranteed to see a collection of the intricate headdresses and costumes worn by groups like the Flaming Arrows, the Wild Magnolias, or the Black Hawk Hunters. The small museum, the personal obsession of Sylvester Francis, feels almost like a scrapbook of the unique traditions of New Orleans’ African-American community, featuring artefacts from jazz funerals and brass bands to Mardi Gras Indians and second-line parades.