“I want to educate the world about our great culture, how we do this, and why we are so successful at it even though the economics say we ain’t supposed to be.” - Ronald W. Lewis
Located in the Lower Ninth Ward since 2003 is a backyard museum that could only exist in New Orleans. The House of Dance & Feathers educates its visitors about the culture of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, and Skull & Bone Gangs through the lens of one man’s participation in these parades over the course of decades.
In founding the museum on his own turf, Ronald W. Lewis sought to preserve and share this unique culture with the world, ensuring that this rare set of knowledge and traditions are passed on for generations to come.
Though certainly noble in mission, the realty of the House of Dance & Feathers’ hinged on slightly more practical matters. After years of feathers and beadwork taking over their house, Lewis’ wife had had enough–she mandated that they be moved to the house’s back shed. Lewis decided to open up his shed to the public, becoming the House of Dance & Feather’s de facto director and curator.
Socially significant items related to marching cultures and the Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, and Skull & Bone Gangs in particular are popular, likely due to their delicate, hand-crafted nature. They provide a touching contrast to the larger-than-life, multi-million dollar floats that Mardi Gras is better known for.
Update as of April 2020: Sadly, Mr. Lewis passed due to complications arising from Covid-19, the museum is temporarily closed until further notice.
Know Before You Go
Open by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead +1(504) 957-2678.