Built in 1835, the Old U.S. Mint is the only building in America to have served both as a United States and a Confederate Mint. President Andrew Jackson advocated the Mint’s establishment in order to help finance development of the nation’s western frontier.
Renowned architect William Strickland designed the building in the then-popular Greek Revival style. Three years after the building opened, in 1838, minting began.
In 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union. State authorities seized the property and transferred it to the Confederate Army. For a short time, it was used to mint Confederate currency and to house Confederate troops. This ended when New Orleans was occupied by Federal forces. Following the Civil War, minting of United States coins resumed and continued until 1909. In 1966, the landmark building was transferred to the state of Louisiana, and in 1981, it opened to the public as part of the Louisiana State Museum complex.
Today's visitor finds a number of stunning permanent exhibits in the Old U.S. Mint. The “New Orleans Jazz” exhibit features instruments (many played by significant jazz musicians), sheet music, and memorabilia chronicling the history of Jazz from its humble beginnings on the streets of New Orleans. The new photography gallery portrays a new generation of New Orleans performers.
Another permanent exhibit is the Newcomb Pottery and crafts. Many of the objects d’art were created by students at H. Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University, including pottery, watercolor images, metalwork, and bookbinding.
A third exhibit, “The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation” is based on National Geographic’s 2002 book of the same name by historians Douglas Brinkley and the late Stephen Ambrose. This exhibit features 45 images by the magazine’s photographer-in-residence Sam Abell.
In addition to these exhibits, the Old U.S. Mint hosts rotating exhibits and houses a Historical Center, which features an archive of maps and documents. Researchers are advised to call in advance at (504) 568-8214.