"Such a library as ours would not only contain books and current periodicals,
but there would be...articles of historic, scientific, and artistic interest."
~ Frank C. Patten, Head Librarian of Rosenberg Library, 1904 - 1934
The Library accepted its first museum piece shortly after it opened in 1904. Since then, thousands of rare and interesting objects from around the world have been added to the collection. Displayed in these pages are the Library's "Treasures of the Month."
February 2013 "Treasure of the Month"
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll! To celebrate Mardi Gras 2013 the Rosenberg Library displayed a vintage Mardi Gras Queen’s Costume as the February Treasure of the Month. Its owner, Margie Beth Spiller, was the “Queen of Galveston’s last Mardi Gras” in 1949 just before the celebration was ended for almost three decades. This irreplaceable piece of Galveston history was donated by Spiller’s husband, Dr. James Hejtmancik, in 1990. Also on display are newspaper clippings, invitations, and a program for the 1949 Mardi Gras courtesy of the Galveston and Texas History Center.
Mardi Gras began on Galveston Island in 1867 and featured lavish masquerade balls, theatrical performances, and parades. The event quickly grew and attracted interest from across the region. In 1872 Governor Edmund Davis came to the island to attend the celebrations. Official festivities ceased during World War II, but organizations like the Artillery club, continued to host private events. In 1949 the City reinstated Mardi Gras, but participation during this period was sporadic and pricy, so it was again shut down in the mid-1950s. In 1982 local krewes started to organize small events. By 1985, with the support of George and Cynthia Mitchell, Larry Del Papa and other local business leaders, Galveston kicked off its modern Mardi Gras celebration which continues today.
The theme of the 1949 Knights of Momus coronation was a “Good Ship Carnival” and Miss Spiller’s dress fit in beautifully. The one-piece gown of white velveteen is trimmed with gold lamé, satin, rhinestones, sequins, and bells. It is designed with a scooped neckline, fitted bodice, and sleeves accented with gold lamé. Each puff in the sleeves is banded with a double row of rhinestones. The skirt is divided into eight draped panels, separated from each other by a double row of rhinestones and iridescent sequins. A band of gold lamé overlaid with satin petal scallops in rose, green, and purple finishes the skirt. Each petal has a small brass bell attached. The waist band is made of green, purple, and rose satin petals held together with rhinestones.
The Treasure of the Month is located on the library’s historic second floor near the East Entrance. It can be viewed during regular library hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, please contact the Museum Office at 409-763-8854 x 125.