Friday, February 1, 2008

February Treasure of the Month

During the month of February, the Rosenberg Library will exhibit a selection of vintage Mardi Gras ball gown sketches. The colorful sketches, dating from 1938 through 1949, were prepared by fashion designers at the Emile Robin studio in San Antonio, Texas. Robin was a well known interior decorator, set designer, and float manufacturer in San Antonio during the first half of the twentieth century. In addition to creating spectacular costumes for Galveston’s Mardi Gras, Emile Robin and his brother, Marcel, designed and built many of the parade floats used for San Antonio’s famous Fiesta celebrations. The French-born brothers trained at the illustrious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Galveston’s first Mardi Gras celebration was held in 1867. Events included lavish masquerade balls, elaborate theatrical performances, and grand parades. Mardi Gras was discontinued during the time of World War II, but it resumed in 1949. City-sponsored Mardi Gras celebrations ended after the mid-1950s because they were too expensive to continue.

In 1985, Galvestonians George and Cynthia Mitchell launched a revival of Mardi Gras, and it has been a great success for the past twenty years. The twelve-day event still includes the traditional street parades, theatrical performances, and galas. However, art exhibits, live music, and sporting events have also become part of the Mardi Gras celebration. Today, more than a dozen krewes participate in the festivities.

The Rosenberg Library Treasure of the Month exhibit is located in the first floor lobby. The costume sketches will be on display throughout the month of February. For more information, please contact Eleanor Clark at 763-8854, ext. 125.

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