Apr 26, 2024 - Things to Do

What's inside the mysterious Great American Alligator Museum

The Great American Alligator Museum viewed from the street outside.

The Great American Alligator Museum is open for very limited hours, typically in the afternoons. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

I visited the Great American Alligator Museum.

Why it matters: This reporter can confirm the experience was charming beyond explanation, though that won't stop me from trying.

The intrigue: The museum and its infamous "coming soon" signs long confused New Orleanians, who were left wondering for years whether it would ever actually open, an endeavor the museum website says began in 2005.

  • A reader even emailed me some weeks ago to say the museum, which their friends operate, was worth checking out.
  • I replied, asking if they could connect me with the owners, but the request went unanswered.
  • Mysterious! (I should note, for posterity, that WDSU has spoken with them.)
Chelsea Brasted poses, open mouthed, for a selfie next to a taxidermy alligator, which also has a wide open mouth.
Chelsea does her best alligator impression. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Driving down Magazine Street last Friday, however, I was shocked — nay, delighted! — to see the doors thrown wide open.

  • It was like a Mardi Gras miracle when it wasn't even Mardi Gras. So I pulled over immediately, in my glee, forgetting to even pay for street parking.
  • After promptly irritating the desk attendant, who assured me the museum opened about two years ago, I began exploring.

The vibe: The Great American Alligator Museum is, in fact, great.

  • A small but well-curated gift shop takes up the first space, which is filled with all kinds of purchasable alligator paraphernalia. (I bought a sticker of a gator wearing a dress, naturally.)
  • In the back rooms, which make up the museum, a smorgasbord of alligator trinkets and tchotchkes line the shelves, walls and display cases, interspersed with gator factoids.
A wide view of the Great American Alligator Museum. Display cases are filled with alligator themed items, and alligator art lines the walls. A taxidermy gator sits in the middle of the room.
The museum boasts what is likely an unparalleled alligator paraphernalia collection. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Did you know, for example, that alligators have one of the most powerful bites ever recorded?

  • Fascinating!

If you've ever thought, "I wonder if you could put an alligator on this," after my visit, I assure you, the answer is yes.

  • The museum's collection boasts a statue of a mermaid on a gator, gator calendars, gator watches, gator letter openers, gator measuring spoons, a gator creamer pitcher, gator bookends, gator planters, gator mugs, gator Christmas ornaments, gator ash trays, gator stuffed animals, leather bags, belts and shoes made out of gator, gator lamps, gator basketballs, gator fossils, gator bones, gator drawings, gator puzzles, lots and lots of gator salt and pepper shakers, and one actual, live baby alligator.

If you go: The hours are extremely limited. The desk attendant advised I look to Google for the specifics.

  • You can look through the entire collection in about a half-hour, and admission is by donation.
  • But you, like me, will probably be tempted by the gift shop out front.
A large fossil of an alligator, still partially embedded in soil, is on display at the museum.
No alligator museum would be complete without an alligator fossil. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios
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