Visiting the Old Ursuline Convent Museum

This post will provide details about how to visit the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. You will find a variety of useful information in the sections below. Each section will include advice on what to expect, how to get there, ticket prices and other important factors.


PLAN YOUR VISIT

The Old Ursuline Convent is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans, predating the foundation of the United States. In addition to the Catholic history represented at this location, visitors also appreciate the opportunity to see classic architecture from the 18th century.

The following section will include advice on how to plan your visit to the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. You can expect details about the best times to visit and what to expect when you arrive. For more information on the location itself, make sure to visit our museum history section. 


How to Get Here

Use this map for specific directions to the Old Ursuline Convent Museum.

If you’re planning to use a hop-on-hop-off bus to get around, you’ll be happy to know that there is a stop nearby at the French Market. Alternatively, you can also take either the #5 or #55 bus to Decatur & Ursulines Ave, which is just one block from the museum.

Visitors who plan on using the streetcar will need to take the #2 to Ursulines Station. This stop is just two blocks from the museum. The alternative is to take the #49 and make a stop at Ursulines Ave. From here, you can walk five blocks down to the convent. 


Best Times to Visit

Despite the fact that this is one of the most historic locations in New Orleans, there usually aren’t a lot of crowds at the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. That being said, there are times when this location can get a little more popular than usual. With that in mind, let’s discuss the operational hours for this convent.

Old Ursuline Convent Museum Hours

  • 10 am – 4 pm | Mon-Fri
  • 9 am – 3 pm | Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday

 

 

There aren’t many times when you will run into large crowds at this museum. If you plan on coming sometime between Monday – Thursday, chances are that you’ll have no trouble planning out a trip whenever you want throughout the day. Even so, the best way to ensure that you will avoid the busiest times is to plan your trip between the hours of 2 pm – 4 pm.

 

 

The Old Ursuline Convent Museum appears to be at its busiest on Fridays from 11 am – 1 pm. If you want to avoid large crowds, make sure to choose a different day/time to visit. Keep in mind that the last admission is at 3:15 pm on weekdays and 2:15 pm on Saturday.

If you need more help deciding when to make your trip, check our what to expect section for additional details that you might want to consider.


What to Expect

Due to the fact that this location usually isn’t very crowded, you should have no trouble spending as much time as you want to look around the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. That being said, most guests report spending anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours exploring the grounds.

In addition to rotating exhibits, this museum also has a variety of notable items on display such as the cypress spiral staircase in the corner, religious statues, and several beautiful oil paintings of past archbishops and bishops. In addition, this convent is also known for housing the Archdiocesan archives.

If the various pieces of art and historic artifacts don’t draw you in, the architecture might do the trick. This is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans that is still standing, and its design was based on the French neoclassical architectural style of the 18th century. Even the National Parks Service has referred to this location as “the finest surviving example of French colonial public architecture in the country.”

Visitors with little interest in either architecture or history may still be interested to hear that the Old Ursuline Convent is considered by some to be one of the most haunted places in New Orleans. Due to the fact that it is one of the oldest buildings in the city, it’s easy to see why rumors and speculation would start to form about the paranormal. If you want to learn more about this or other haunted locations in the area, consider taking a ghost tour

 


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TICKET DETAILS

In addition to the guided tours that include admission, you can also take a self-guided tour which is available upon entry. There is also a docent on hand to answer any question you might have about the historic landmark.

Ticket Prices

  • $8/General Admission
  • $7/Seniors | $6/Students & Military
  • Tickets can be purchased on site

Although admission can’t be purchased online, it is included for free with some walking tours. If you’re interested in seeing this museum while exploring other notable locations in the city, you may want to consider taking a French Quarter walking tour which includes tickets to the Old Ursuline Convent.

 


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EXHIBIT DETAILS

The Old Ursuline Convent Museum has one major rotating exhibit which changes every year or two. They also have several notable attractions such as oil paintings, statues and historic artifacts to see. This section will provide details about their current exhibit and some of the other things you will find in the museum.

Tricentennial Exhibit

In honor of the Tricentennial (300th anniversary) of New Orleans, the Old Ursuline Convent Museum has created an extensive exhibition covering the history of this city from 1718 – 2018. In addition to a short documentary about the exhibit, you will also find details and artifacts related to such Catholic sites as the St. Louis Cathedral, the Old Ursuline Convent, and St. Mary’s Chapel.

Historic Artwork

You will find historic and beautiful oil paintings throughout the church depicting notable bishops and archbishops. In addition to these pieces of art, you will also find stunning stained glass windows in the main chapel which depict various moments in Catholic history. Finally, there are several wonderful statues in the Old Ursuline Convent Museum which fans of both art and religious figures may want to check out.

Ursuline Convent Courtyard 

This area is found behind the main building, and it includes statues which pay homage to the founding Ursuline sisters who formed the convent. There are also statues honoring Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini and Father Francis Xavier Seelos. The design of the courtyard itself will be hard to forget, with carefully maintained hedges which form a beautiful pattern. 

Cypress Staircase

Usuline Staircase

Found in the corner, this spiral staircase has been in the convent since its first build. Eventually, it was removed and installed in the second convent. Unfortunately, visitors aren’t allowed to climb this stairway, but it is a fairly interesting architectural feat which has survived throughout the years.

 

 

St. Mary’s Church

Tickets include free admission to this historic church. It was originally built as the bishop’s chapel in 1845, and it was the third chapel erected on the property. Sadly, the bell tower which once stood here was destroyed during a hurricane in 1914, but the building itself remains intact.

 


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NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

The Old Ursuline Convent Museum isn’t very far from the heart of the French Quarter. Due to its location, there are a lot of historic and notable landmarks in the area. This section will provide information about nearby attractions that you may want to visit.

St. Louis Cathedral

The Old Ursuline Convent Museum has artifacts related to the St. Louis Cathedral which is only 4 blocks away. For more details, make sure to read our post about the St. Louis Cathedral.

The Cabildo

Although it is now used as a museum, this building was once the site of several historic moments. You’ll find this attraction right next to the St. Louis Cathedral. Make sure to read our post about the Cabildo for more details.

The Presbytère

You’ll find this building on the other side of the St. Louis Cathedral, mirroring both the design and appeal of the Cabildo. Visit our post about the Presbytère to learn more about the attraction.

Jackson Square

This historic square can be found just south of the St. Louis Cathedral. In addition to its history, this landmark is also a common site for public events throughout the year. Visit our post about Jackson Square to learn more.

Cafe du Monde

With a history that stretches back to the 1860s, it’s no wonder that this location is all about tradition. They have served the same coffee and beignets for over a century now. Check our post about Cafe du Monde for more info.

French Market

You’ll find this historic marketplace just one block south of the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. See sites such as Dutch Alley and the Joan of Arc statue. If you’re interested, read our post about the French Market.

New Orleans Jazz Museum

What was once the Old U.S. Mint has since become a museum dedicated to the history of jazz in New Orleans. If this sounds like a fun time, read our post about the New Orleans Jazz Museum for more details. 

 


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MUSEUM HISTORY

Although this is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans, it’s actually not the first convent built in the area. In 1734, the original convent was constructed in a position facing the river. That building stood and remained functional until 1752 when a new convent was built and the Ursuline nuns moved in.

The current convent has been standing ever since, surviving tragedies such as the Good Friday fire in 1788. For centuries, the building would house nuns and provide schooling for young girls. This was also used as the residence of the archbishop and the archdiocesan central office. As a matter of fact, the Old Ursuline Convent has also housed the Archdiocesan archives and has been referred to as “the treasure of the archdiocese.”

Upon its designation as a National Historic Landmark, the National Park Service said that “This is the finest surviving example of French Colonial public architecture in the country, Louis XV in style, formal and symmetrical, with restrained ornament.” Those words were written in 1960, and they still hold true today over 50 years later.

After this designation, the convent received a $3 million dollar restoration which restored and repaired several structures in the building. Today, the Old Ursuline Convent is used not only as a historic monument dating back to the days before the United States was a country, but also a museum which focuses on both the religious and cultural history of New Orleans. 

 


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