“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 unique 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. Relegated with his materials to the back shed, the museum’s director and curator decided opening up his workspace to any and all interested parties was a natural extension of the costumes’ ultimate purpose (for public celebration).
As a testament to the uniqueness of the marching cultures celebrated at the House of Dance & Feathers, the Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and Skull & Bone Gangs continue to be popular favorites, thanks to their delicate, hand-crafted nature and profound social significance that seems to stand in direct contrast to the million-dollar floats of Mardi Gras’ more widely renowned parades.