July 09, 2008

The dog days of summer are approaching

You can tell it's summer time in Louisiana because it is hot, hot, hot. It's a good time to spend some time indoors. And what better way to spend that time than learning about art, history, culture, gardening, military, astronomy, insects and more.

There are many exciting places to visit in Northeast Louisiana. A trip to Monroe offers many exciting things to do and see including the Masur Museum Of Art, the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, and the Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana.

The Masur Museum of Art, located at 1400 South Grand in Monroe, is the largest visual arts museum in Northeast Louisiana. The mission of the museum is to provide educational programs and high quality visual arts to the community. Admission is free. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m; Friday-Sunday from 2:00-5:00 p.m.; and closed on Mondays. For more information contact the Masur Museum of Art at 318-329-2237.

Current Exhibitions at Masur Museum of Art:
June 8 - July 20, 2008, The Third Annual Member's Exhibition Members of the Twin City Art Foundation showcase their works.

August 3 - 31, 2008, The Permanent Collection of the Twin City Art Foundation. For over 35 years, the Twin City Art Foundation has collected works of art this exhibition will showcase some seldom seen pieces.

September 14 - November 2, 2008, The Gus Kopriva Collection Outstanding exhibition of German Expressionist works on loan to the museum from Gus Kopriva, noted collector of Houston, Texas.
Information taken from the Masur Museum of Art website: http://www.monroela.us/masurmuseum_exhibitions.php


The next jewel in Northeast Louisiana is the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens which is rich in history, not only of the area, but also the history of one of the most treasured American beverages, Coca-Cola. The next time you are sipping on a cold, fizzy, delicious Coca-Cola, you will know that this beverage originated in the area.

The story is told that Joe Biedenharn worked at his uncle's confectionery shop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Upon his uncle's death, Joe inherited his uncle's part of the shop and turned it into a general store and installed a soda fountain. Young Joe was very industrious and enjoyed a challenge. He was selling coca-cola to the city folk around Vicksburg. He thought it would be nice if the country folk who could not make it into the big city could enjoy this tasty beverage as well. He was already bottling soda water at the time, so in the summer of 1894, Joe Biedenharn put Coca-Cola into bottles, becoming the first person to bottle the popular beverage.

If this small snippet has piqued your interest, you can read the entire story at the Biedenharn website.

It is a fascinating saga of the life and legacy of a first generation American. It is an inspirational story to anyone who knows what it is like to work hard and use their own resources to get something accomplished. The legacy of this man and his family is still living on today in the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens. When Joe Biedenharn was in his late forties he moved to Monroe where he built a bottling plant and gave people in Monroe jobs. He and his family contributed greatly to the arts and the community.

This is a must see for everyone interested in Louisiana history. The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, located at 2006 Riverside Drive in Monroe, is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday - Saturday, and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information call (318) 387-5281.

The museum offers many different activities for people of all ages including Children's Activities, Moonlit Gardens, Special Events, Tours, Concerts, Exhibits, and Garden Path Programs.

The following activities are listed taken from http://www.bmuseum.org/eventsandexhibits.htm.

Children's Activities
Desert Container Gardens on Saturday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $5.00. Children will learn about succulents, get to chose from a variety of cacti and other desert loving plants and feel the unique texture of the soil that these plants love. In addition, Ralph Calhoun and Lamar Smith, local cactus enthusiasts, will display some their collections.
Insect Plant Pokes on Saturday, August 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost: $5.00. The activity will feature new insect designs, a live insect display, and insects that look like plants!

Plant a Plant for Grandparent’s Day on Saturday, September 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost: $5.00. Surprise your grandparents with a plant that you planted, or bring them to the Biedenharn and garden together! Children will decorate a planter and play in the dirt. The finished product can then be given to their grandparents in honor of Grandparents Day, celebrated the first Sunday following Labor Day each year.

Moonlit Gardens
Experience ELsong Gardens under the light of the full moon when the Biedenharn offers Moonlit Fridays on July 18, August 15, September 12, and October 10, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is free.

Moonlit Gardens: Astronomy Night is Friday, July 18, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is Free. Learn about astronomy while exploring the moon up close with special guest Don Wheeler, Associate Professor of Science at Delta Community College. Delta’s telescopes will be set-up in ELsong Gardens for all to enjoy. Wheeler will be available to answer questions and will also have information on the local astronomy club, Ouachita Valley Astronomy League. Afterwards, stroll through ELsong and enjoy the moonlit glow cast upon Biedenharn’s many plants, water features and sculptures.

Special Event
2nd Annual Biedenharn Coke Show on Saturday, August 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is Free – No Reservations Necessary
Want to be a part of Monroe's most exciting event? Now is your chance. By popular demand, the Biedenharn Coke Show is back for the second straight year. Biedenharn Curator and Coke Enthusiast Justin French will be available to help you identify and date your Coca-Cola items. For the first time, we will be offering audience seating. Come and watch as Coca-Cola collectors from the tri-state region bring their items in for identification. Bring the family, have a Coke, and create a memory.

Tours are offered daily.

In the fall discover many other activities for plant enthusiasts, music lovers, and decorators. There are a host of gardening and landscaping programs to enjoy.


Children are in for a treat when they visit the Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, located on the Ouachita River in Downtown Monroe at 323 Walnut Street.

There are several exhibits for the children to explore. In "The Kid's Cafe" which is sponsored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association, children can explore what it's like to be a server, a dishwasher or a chef. "Bubbleworks" is an exhibit sponsored by the Junior League of Monroe where children can make giant bubbles, sail boats in the waterway and view themselves inside a giant bubble. A visit to "Health Hall" and children can become a paramedic, drive to the ER, listen to a heart beat and look over an x-ray. The Ouachita Medical Alliance Society sponsors "Stuffee" a 9 foot doll with removable organs so children can learn how their bodies work.

The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 per person (ages 1 and up). For more information call (318) 361-9611.Visit http://www.nelcm.org/ for a 2 for 1 coupon.


Northeast Louisiana played a vital role in aviation and military history. The Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana located at 701 Kansas Lane in Monroe is dedicated to keeping this history and the stories of the men and women who contributed to it.

It may amaze some to know that General Claire Lee Chennault and the Flying Tigers are credited for saving China from the Japanese during WWII. Monroe was the hometown of Jim Halsell who became a NASA astronaut. The Selman Field Army-Air Force Navigation School, which opened in Monroe in 1942, was the largest such facility in the U.S. It offered the nation's only complete navigation course during WWII. These are some of the fascinating facts that can be explored during a visit to the Aviation and Military Museum of Louisiana.

In addition, there is a large collection of military memorabilia, and a collection of oral histories from WWI to the present.

The museum is currently working on a restoration project and needs volunteers. There are many areas where volunteers are needed. Contact Jerry Smith, Curator, at 318.362.5540 to find out where you can help this Louisiana treasure.

Admission to the museum is free. The hours of operation are Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1:00- 5:00 p.m. The gift shop offers prints of "Flying the Hump" and the "Last flight of the 'Spirit of L.S.U.'", t-shirts, stuffed airplanes and more.

Visit http://www.ammla.net/ for more information or to offer your support in preserving Louisiana's Aviation and Military history.


There are some things to get you going. Go, explore, learn, experience what the great state of Louisiana has to offer. Don't let the hot weather keep you from enjoying a bit of your heritage.

And when you visit, please do me a favor, tell them you read about them on http://louisianatrekker.blogspot.com/.

If you are enjoying this blog, please email me and let me know. Also if there are other areas of interest that you know about or would like me to research, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you. If you would like to advertise your attraction, shop, restaurant or event and it's happening in North Louisiana, drop me a line and I'll get back with you. I want to share with the world the great people, places and events that North Louisiana has to offer. And I need your help.