KENNER, La. (AP) — They came in T-shirts and jeans to bid on crowns, scepters and capes of Mardi Gras kings and queens, or the jewels and coins tossed to their eager subjects.
The glitzy pageantry and history of New Orleans’ Carnival was sold to the highest bidder Thursday. The baubles might have been faux, but several hundred collectors eagerly bid on exhibits from the city’s once-thriving Mardi Gras Museum.
Designed as a celebration of Mardi Gras when it opened in the suburb of Kenner in 1992, it closed after a souring economy cut into tourism and the city, like many communities around the country, was forced to tighten its budget and cut back on what it funded.
From towering costumes covered with plumes and faux jewels, to an 1891 Rex invitation — everything went.
“It’s kind of sad to see it all being carted off,” said Karen King, as she watched a bidder celebrate the purchase of a massive “collar,” the part of a Mardi Gras costume that rises from the shoulders several feet into the air and may be six feet or more wide. This one was silver, pink and blue, heavily beaded, bearing clouds, soaring birds and flowers.
“At least people that really want the things are getting them,” she said.
Or not: Charlie Durr bid on a plaque from a ball he attended in 1957, but watched it go home with someone else.
“It went for $40 and was worth it, just not to me,” he said.
Prices were relatively modest: A 1970 Gremlin automobile, covered in designs made of Mardi Gras beads, right down to the hubcaps, but without an engine, sold for $800. A mannequin wearing the glittering 1987 King Poseidon costume, complete with mannequin and glass showcase, drew a $1,500 bid.
The remains of the now-defunct Toy Train Museum, which had been just down the street for 25 years until it closed in 2009, were also sold Thursday.
Another auction of artifacts for a museum that never opened is planned this summer in Pennsylvania.
Last week, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., reported that 8,000-plus Wild West artifacts will be auctioned off in mid-July, with the money going to city coffers. Former Mayor Stephen R. Reed paid $8.3 million for the collection with the idea of creating a museum but it never developed.
These are tough times for museums, especially smaller ones.
On Tuesday, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who oversees 17 mostly tiny museums run by volunteers and part-time workers, said most could be endangered under a proposed budget from Gov. Bobby Jindal. Only the two largest, the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge and the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport, would stay open.
Where there were once 12 museums around the Mardi Gras Museum, there are only four or five now, and at least two of those are open only by appointment, said Kenner’s director of Parks, Recreation and community Services, Ken Marroccoli.
“The amount of funding we can afford for our museums is not what it once was,” Marroccoli said. “Our sales tax is not as plentiful as it was before the downturn. So this is what we’ve had to do.”
More Related Stories
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- UK emergency committee convenes after attack
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11