Louisiana has long held a reputation for colorful politicians. While that reputation does not always benefit our state, there is no denying that elections, and the people running in them, are seldom boring. The Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, home of perhaps our state’s most famous political dynasty, the Long family, is devoted to chronicling the history of our state’s politicians.
The museum, opened in 1993 on Huey Long’s 100th birthday, is housed in the former Winnfield train station, a 1908 building with its original wooden floor, in itself an interesting artifact. The museum commemorates 191 persons who were either politicians or connected to state politics. From the state’s first colonial governor, Zachary Taylor, to officeholders on every level of state and local government, there are exhibits from every era of Louisiana’s history.
Two of the more noteworthy exhibits are of Earl and Huey Long, both former governors of our state. They are commemorated with life size wax figures. Huey is featured in a replica of one of his offices, complete with furniture from the Long family from when Huey lived in New Orleans. Earl Long is shown giving a speech in front of “Uncle Earl’s Sound Truck” a 1951 Chevrolet with speakers mounted on the roof. The car was once owned by Governor Long and was donated to the museum in 1998. The car was also featured in the movie “Blaze” starring Paul Newman as Earl Long. In a fitting, if unintentional commentary on a most noteworthy era of our history, the Earl Long figure is wearing an “I ‘aint crazy. Vote for Uncle Earl” button from the campaign.
The museum will also host a Smithsonian travelling program “Voices and Votes” from July through September 2022. This is the second Smithsonian exhibit hosted by the museum, a singular honor for a facility its size.
The Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame also continues a trend I have noticed in my travels. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. In fact, after my tour from the museum head, the young man who serves as the building’s custodian saw me looking at a display and offered to show me “some cool stuff”. I then got another tour, including a side room that featured a campaign poster from Country singer Sammy Kershaw’s run for office. The young man studied the museum’s displays while doing his duties. Our state is blessed with a lot of industrious people. I am sure I was not the only visitor to the museum who was impressed by that young man.
The museum hosts 8,000 to 10,000 visitors each year. They come from 48 states and over 11 foreign countries. The museum is located at 499 East Main St. in Winnfield. The phone is 318-628-5928. Its hours are Monday-Friday from 9-5. Admission is free.
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