Louisiana State Museum Continuing the Celebration of the King of Carnival
NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana State Museum are pleased to announce the extension of the exhibition, Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design, at the Presbytère, through the end of 2023. Occupying five galleries, this landmark exhibit celebrates the history and contributions of Rex to the Carnival season and continues the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the organization. Since its founding in 1872, Rex, also known by its official name, the School of Design, has taken on an unparalleled leadership role in Carnival, setting the standard of excellence for the dozens of krewes formed since then. The Rex parade was the first daytime parade in modern Carnival, and the man and woman selected as its monarchs have always served as the king and queen of all New Orleans Carnival.
“Mardi Gras is a huge draw for visitors to every corner of our state. With the 2023 carnival season ramping up as we head to Mardi Gras Day, we are thrilled to showcase this exhibit through the rest of the year. While there are many traditions around Louisiana that are the backbone of the annual celebration in each community, the image of Rex parading through the streets of New Orleans is known worldwide,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.
Since opening in February 2022, Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design has generated acclaim locally and beyond. Over twenty historic and contemporary costumes and gowns are displayed, making it one of the largest temporary Carnival exhibits ever produced by the Louisiana State Museum. In the summer of 2022, a special screening at the Presbytère of the newly discovered film of the 1898 Rex parade in the archives of the Eye Filmmuseum in the Netherlands attracted a standing-room-only audience. In December 2022, the Library of Congress announced the selection of this extraordinarily rare film to its prestigious National Film Registry, which generated headlines around the world. Now known to be the earliest surviving moving footage ever shot in New Orleans, the 1898 Rex parade film can be seen playing in large format in the exhibit.
New artifacts will be added to the exhibition in early 2023, including the glamorous couture gown worn by Elinor Pitot White, the Queen of Carnival in 2022. Designed and made by Suzanne Perron St. Paul, the gown was donated to the museum by White’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Michael B. White, in late 2022. Another rare artifact that will be added to the exhibit is the nine-foot-long mantle worn by Adrienne Lawrence, the 1906 Queen of Carnival. The mantle is on loan from the Pointe Coupee Parish Public Library in the town of New Roads, where Adrienne Lawrence settled and became a local champion of libraries and literacy. The fragile silk velvet mantle, the oldest one still surviving worn by a Queen of Carnival, has undergone a complete professional restoration in preparation for the exhibition.
An extensive array of educational programs scheduled throughout 2023 will draw on the krewe’s incorporated name, the School of Design, with a goal of aiding students and families in creating works of art inspired by the krewe’s artistic legacy. Teaching artists are available to give tours of the exhibit to school groups, and the museum will also offer enriching sensory-friendly programs for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design is being made possible by First Horizon Bank and other generous donors of the Louisiana Museum Foundation. The exhibit will remain on display in the Presbytère, located at 751 Chartres St. on Jackson Square, through Dec. 10, 2023. The Presbytère is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $8 for students, seniors, and active military, and free for children 6 and under. Visit LouisianaStateMuseum.org for more information.