The museum building was purchased by Robert and Elizabeth McDade in 2005 with the intention of opening an alligator museum – the first in the country. With degrees in geology, engineering, and biology, the study of science – especially the natural sciences – has been an abiding passion. This passion was magnified when during his time roughnecking in the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana swamps, Robert was struck with a severe case of “gator-itus”, a fascination with everything related to Alligators.
He started collecting alligator-related artifacts and soon developed a product line under the brand Alligator King, in time becoming the premier distributor of alligator-themed souvenirs. Meanwhile, Robert continued to collect everything he could find relating to alligators. He found a 50-million-year-old alligator fossil from the Green River formation in Wyoming, a 10-million-year-old fossil from Florida, giant scutes from 12-million-year-old gators from Florida, deformed alligator heads, over a century’s worth of antique alligator-related postcards, video games featuring alligators, vintage alligator fashion items, movie posters from around the world, folk art, toys, household goods, and by far the largest collection of alligator ashtrays and salt and pepper shakers in the USA, not to mention the museum's centerpiece, an formidable 14-ft gator named Fideaux.
As the artifacts accumulated Robert decided that he wanted to share his unique and extensive collection with the public. The idea for The Great American Alligator Museum was born and preparations to open were fully underway by August 2005 when the city of New Orleans was inundated by Hurricane Katrina.
The museum project is still underway. One day it will open.