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A mule and plow were used to break ground on the LSU Rural Life Museum’s new visitor and exhibit center on Jan. 14.

LSU Rural Life Museum Breaks Ground on "Whispers of Change" Project

The LSU Rural Life Museum officially broke ground on the new 20,000-square-foot Visitor/Exhibit Center on Wednesday, Jan. 14. The new addition will include a lobby, restrooms, expanded gift shop, multi-use interpretive movie room, exhibit space, classroom/lecture space and administrative/volunteer offices.

The "Whispers of Change" fundraising campaign, initiated by the Friends of the LSU Rural Life Museum, began almost eight years ago. Expansion and renovation of the current facility was needed in order to enhance the visitor experience, protect the valuable collections and ensure the continued growth and success of the museum. Honorary Chairs, John Barton Sr., former LSU Chancellor Paul Murrill and Sue Turner, and General Chairs, John and Frances Monroe, led generous community support for the project.

"The addition of the new building is another step toward the realization of Steele and Ione Burden's dream to make this museum a world-class facility," said LSU Rural Life Museum Director David Floyd. "Dedicated donors who are familiar with the Burdens' vision came forward, during difficult times, to make remarkable gifts to support this project."

The LSU Rural Life Museum, often referred to as "Louisiana's best kept secret," is located on property donated to LSU by Ione, Steele and Pike Burden. Designers of the new facility have taken special care to preserve the rural setting and feel of "days gone by," as part of the Burden family's vision for the museum and gardens.

The Rural Life Museum provides insight into the largely forgotten lifestyles and cultures of 18th and 19th century Louisianians. It has the largest collection of material culture of 19th century Louisiana and includes 32 historic buildings spread over the 25-acre complex.

The "Whispers of Change" expansion project at the LSU Rural Life Museum is part of the Forever LSU campaign, a historic undertaking to attain more than $750 million in support of LSU by the end of the year 2010. To find out more about how you can join the campaign for LSU's future visit

The LSU Rural Life Museum is located at 4560 Essen Lane. Both the museum and 25 acres of Windrush Gardens are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. year round; closed New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. An admission fee is charged. Annual individual and family passes are available. For more information, call 225-765-2437 or visit

Melissa Foley | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
January 2009