Los Isleños Museum Complex in St. Bernard Village was the setting for Museum Days 2017, an interactive educational field trip experience initiated in 1981. This year’s program was attended by 1,014 third and fourth-grade students from St. Bernard and Orleans parishes November 2 and 3, 2017. As many as 220 teachers and adult chaperones accompanied the students.
The museum complex is owned by St. Bernard Parish Government and managed under terms of a cooperative agreement with Los Isleños Heritage and Cultural Society. This successful public/private partnership has resulted in the successful development of a historic – cultural public resource which features nine historic and replica structures, a nature trail and cypress swamp. The St. Bernard Historical Society partnered with Los Isleños Society in 1981 to sponsor the first Museum Days. The purpose of Museum Days is to introduce the youth of St. Bernard and the region to the distinct heritage and cultural traditions of this community with an emphasis on the Canary Islands colonists and their descendants who founded St. Bernard Parish in 1779-1780. The program continued uninterrupted through 2004. After Katrina in 2005, there was a Museum Days program in
St. Bernard elementary schools in 2007. Following completion of the rebuilding/restoration of the museum complex in 2010, Museum Days were revived at Los Isleños Museum Complex in 2011.
Students learned about commercial fishing from Chuck Fisher who set-up his skiff with crab traps and an oyster dredge. Tim, Patrick and Charlene Strain dressed in War of 1812 uniforms/clothing and explained the Battle of New Orleans. Jeannie Bacon and living history interpreters made vegetable based dyes and loomed cloth. The Happy Grannies demonstrated traditional quilting in the Esteves House. Duck decoy carving, wood carving, miniature boat building, pirogue building, alligator farming, Choctaw Native American crafts, Tenerife lace-making, praline making, caldo (an Isleño vegetable soup) preparation and weaving were among the folklife/folk craft disciplines presented to area students from nine metro area elementary schools. John Rankin, Loyola University School of Music, participated for the sixth consecutive year playing classical Spanish guitar and the Canary Islands timple for students, explaining the role of traditional Spanish folk music in the evolution of Louisiana music. Students toured all of the historic or replica structures in the complex in addition to walking the nature trail.
Museum Days is organized by Los Isleños Heritage and Cultural Society and the Office of Tourism, St. Bernard Parish Government, with support from the St. Bernard Parish School Board and the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office.