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The Presbytère, which flanks St. Louis Cathedral to the right, was originally built to house the clergy serving in the cathedral. That never came to pass, and the clergy’s loss is our gain. It’s now a museum with two excellent permanent exhibits. Upstairs, the Mardi Gras exhibit walks visitors through the holiday’s history—which is so much more (and so much more interesting) than cwazy kids doing cwazy kid stuff. It shows ornate Mardi Gras Indian costumes and antique Mardi Gras Queen jewels, and there’s even a replica float so you can toss mock beads at mock crowds. (To see the real thing, visit Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World). On the first floor, the multimedia exhibit “Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond” is an in-depth look at the history and human drama of hurricanes. First-person audio, video, and interactive displays create an educational but wholly accessible experience, and an emotionally evocative one at that (but with enough optimism, humor, and science to keep it from being too downcast). One man’s “in case of emergency” memo hangs on a wall: his jeans, scrawled with his name, blood type, and next-of-kin. A reproduction of a small attic with a rough hole chopped through its ceiling—and the very axe one woman used to commit a similar act—accompany her voiceover describing the incident. It’s powerful stuff.