NEW ORLEANS (press release) – To mark the 150th anniversary of the iconic Krewe of Rex, the new exhibition “Fit for a King: The Rex Archives at THNOC” delves into The Historic New Orleans Collection’s (THNOC) rarely seen holdings related to the Carnival organization. A vast array of items are on display within the free exhibit, spotlighting jewels worn by the organization’s kings and queens, favors received by ball guests at the turn of the 20th century, doubloons and float designs.
“Fit for a King” is a companion exhibition to “Making Mardi Gras,” sponsored by Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World and Kern Studios, celebrating the traditions and usually unseen work of craftspeople, musicians, artists and krewes large and small that underpin the diverse rites of Carnival in New Orleans. Both exhibitions are on view at THNOC through May 8, 2022, and admission is free.
“Rex is credited with establishing some of the season’s most recognizable traditions, including the Carnival anthem ‘If Ever I Cease to Love’, the holiday’s trademark colors of purple, green and gold and the crowning of ‘The King of Carnival,’” said Aimee Everrett, who co-curated the exhibit with Katherine Dunn. “Since February 13, 1872—the date of the krewe’s first parade—members of the School of Design, commonly known as Rex, have provided a regal culmination of the Carnival celebration in New Orleans, which concludes with the Rex Ball. The Historic New Orleans Collection is pleased to present a sampling of objects and images that convey the ballroom pageantry and street-parade beauty that are the krewe’s hallmarks.”
THNOC’s Rex-related holdings, which number in the thousands, began with nearly 100 items from the personal collection of the organization’s founders, General L. Kemper and Leila Moore Williams, who both had family ties to Rex. General Williams served in the royal court in 1914, and his brother Frank B. Williams was king in 1909. In 2006, THNOC became the official repository for the records of the School of Design.
Visitors may view “Fit for a King” at THNOC’s Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St. in New Orleans, Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free, and THNOC’s COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, requiring facemasks and proof of COVID-19 vaccine or negative PCR test for guests ages 5 and older. Advance reservations are recommended and may be made at my.hnoc.org.