NEW ORLEANS – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana State Museum announce the opening of a new exhibition, Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design, at the Presbytery on February 1, 2022. Just in time for Mardi Gras, this new exhibit celebrates the history and contributions of the Rex organization to the carnival season and commemorates the organization’s 150th anniversary. Since its founding in 1872, Rex, also known by its official name, the School of Design, has assumed an unprecedented leadership role in Carnival, setting the standard of excellence for the dozens of brotherhoods formed since then. The Rex Parade was the first daytime parade in modern carnival, and the man and woman chosen as monarchs have always been the king and queen of all the New Orleans carnival.
âRex has become synonymous with Mardi Gras and the carnival season in New Orleans, reigning over the city as the Carnival King. While there are many traditions in the city that form the backbone of the annual celebration, the image of Rex parading through the streets of New Orleans is known around the world, âsaid the Lieutenant Governor. Billy Nungesser. âWe are delighted to add this exhibit to our collection just in time for the upcoming carnival season, adding to the series of exhibits in our New Orleans museums that showcased the extraordinary traditions that are so dear to us. . â
Working closely with Dr. Stephen Hales, Rex Organization historian and archivist and author of the new book Rex: 150 Years of the School of Design, the Louisiana State Museum will tell the story of Rex using the unrivaled collection of artifacts of the museum, focusing on the sophisticated costumes of the kings, queens and courtiers of the brotherhood. The museum made a dedicated effort starting in the 1920s to collect costumes directly from members of the brotherhood. This collection now totals more than 60 royalty and brotherhood costumes and dresses as well as dozens of sets of rare crown jewels. The exhibition will also feature newly discovered treasures from the Brotherhood’s early years, recently acquired from as far away as Germany and Italy, as well as rarely seen artifacts borrowed from private and institutional collections.
An interesting feature of the exhibit will be a specially constructed tank set up in one of the exhibition galleries by the krewe’s tank builder, Royal Artists, demonstrating the techniques and materials used to build the elaborate tanks inspired by the Rex story.
âWe can always count on Rex for a beautiful parade which is a world famous Mardi Gras event,â said Lt. Gov. Nungesser. “And the rest of the year, the organization supports public education.”
A wide range of educational programs planned throughout the exhibition will build on the krewe’s incorporated name, the School of Design, with the aim of helping students and families create works of art inspired by the artistic heritage of the krewe. The museum will also offer enriching sensory programs for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
The exhibit will also explore the vital civic function the community has played since its founding, largely to boost the city’s economic development after the Civil War. After Hurricane Katrina, Rex took on an expanded philanthropic mission through his Pro Bono Publico Foundation, donating more than $ 10 million to the New Orleans public school system. Throughout its history, municipal and humanitarian organizations have honored many kings and queens of the brotherhood for their broad support for vital community causes.
This exhibition is made possible by IBERIABANK | First Horizon and other generous donors to the Louisiana Museum Foundation.
Rex: The 150th anniversary of the School of Design will be on display to the public in the Presbytery, located at 751, rue Chartres on Jackson Square, from February 1, 2022 until December 11, 2022. The Presbytery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is $ 10 for adults, $ 8 for students, seniors and serving military personnel, and free for children 6 and under. Visit LouisianaStateMuseum.org for more information.