Whitney Plantation Museum

Whitney Plantation Museum

The Whitney Plantation Historic District is a museum devoted to slavery in the Southern United States. The district, including the main house and outbuildings, is preserved near Wallace, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, on the River Road along the Mississippi River.

The plantation was started in 1752 by German immigrants Ambroise Haydel and his wife, and their descendants owned it until 1867.

The museum, comprising main portions of the 2,000-acre plantation property, opened its doors to the public for the first time in December 2014. It was founded by John Cummings, a trial attorney from New Orleans who has spent more than $8 million of his own fortune on this long-term project, and worked on it for nearly 15 years.

The director of research is Ibrahima Seck, a Senegalese scholar who has done much work on the history of slavery. The grounds contain imaginative exhibits and original art commissioned by Cummings, such as life-size sculptures of children.

The sculptures are representative of people born into slavery before the Civil War, many of whom were interviewed as adults for the Federal Writers Project during the Great Depression.

These oral histories of hundreds of the last survivors of slavery were collected and published by the federal government, to preserve their stories. The transcripts and some audio recordings are held by the Library of Congress.