As one of the projects of Public Works of New Deal which was finalized in 1939, Shreveport’s Louisiana State Exhibit Museum is a jewel of architecture formed in the era’s ultra-modern design. The circular building of this historic museum is abode to over 20 exquisitely portrayed scale dioramas that depicted a snapshot of the 1940s life of Louisiana. The collection of LSEM includes national and regional artifacts, natural history exhibit, local artists’ original works, and artifacts of Louisiana Native Americans.
The city of Shreveport allocated six acres of grounds to the state for the structure of the museum which was constructed in 1937-38. The establishment was designated as a permanent exhibit facility to showcase the unique wildlife, industry, and agriculture of Louisiana and to complement the adjoining State Fair. The architectural elements in the museum can be sighted in the reception area, the courtyard, the exhibit area, the map, the fresco, and the museum complex.
The 22 dioramas housed in the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum present the natural resources, agriculture, and industry of Louisiana in the 1940s. The Rice Harvesting Diorama shows agriculture’s transitional period. This diorama introduced machinery as it became more reliable and cheaper and started to replace farmhands and mules.
Fertilizers and machinery revolutionized agriculture, granting farmers to yield more food and crops with less effort. From this diorama, visitors can also read about the Rice Farming history of Louisiana, including modern rice farming and the United State’s rice farming. Another diorama in the museum is the Oil Production Diorama which provides a timeline of all major events in the gas and oil industry of Louisiana. This further includes the usage of oil rigs, drilling sites ensuing in oil fields, and the different controls and pumps that are used to manage the speed, pressure, and oil amount in a well.
The extensive research of these dioramas is vital and based on the taken photographs from the actual spots all over the state. Three out of over 20 dioramas in the museum are the life-sized scene of natural history and the rest display miniature episode of the natural resources, industry, and agriculture of the state.
The Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, due to the museum’s involvement with Dr. Clarence Webb, is home to a spectacular assemblage of both Caddo and Poverty Point artifacts. Located in Louisiana’s northeast, Poverty Point’s monumental earthworks area is one of America’s earliest earthwork sites. The countless artifacts found were Poverty Point Objects or baked clay objects. Projectile points, plummets, beads, pendants, and tubular pipes were also discovered.
These artifacts show that the people of Poverty Point were an extensive trade network’s members. Poverty Point, in 2014, was titled a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Caddo Culture initially developed down the Red River and is considered as Louisiana’s only prehistoric culture with continuous documentation until today. Stone tools, ceremonial pottery, copper ornaments, pipes, and shell beads were excavated from the Caddo sites and all are displayed in the Webb Native American Gallery of LSEM.
The archeological collection of Louisiana State Exhibit Museum is remarkable primarily due to many avocational archeologists who have loaned or donated their collection to LSEM. Other collections in the museum include Autographing History Transcripts, Historic Objects from Civil War, and Battle of New Orleans, Natural History Displays, and Regional Art.
The museum also offers group tours and custom presentations on the culture, history, and archeology of Louisiana. The Louisiana State Exhibit Museum furthermore provides educational play which educates kids on the natural history, animals, resources, history, and products of Louisiana. Other educational opportunities at the museum are scavenger hunts, lesson plans, summer camps, more.