Hand painted Theater Curtain from Rex Theater, 1927-1928

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Artifact Is: 3 Dimensional Item
Located at: Louisville Historical Museum

Artifact Significant To: Louisville and Colorado


Artifact Description:

An unknown sign painter created this curtain in 1927-28 to grace the stage of the Rex Theatre, a popular movie theatre and playhouse on Main Street in Louisville, Colorado. The curtain includes advertisements for twenty-two downtown businesses, highlighting the owners’ family names as well as two-digit telephone numbers and some business services or amenities. With a border illusion of elegant red drapes, this oil on canvas curtain was located in the same building for eighty years at which time it was donated to the Louisville Historical Museum. 

Why Is This Artifact Significant?

Painted theatre curtains are rare artifacts and at times hard to exhibit due to their size. A national organization that studies theatre curtains (Curtains Without Borders) believes the Rex Theatre curtain is unusual, in good condition and older than most in this region. The Historical Museum has it fully displayed in our main building, the Jacoe Store, demonstrating an early 20th century example of business support for the arts. The City of Louisville funded the cleaning of the curtain by a conservator in August 2016 so that we may exhibit it for years to come.

How Does The Artifact Relate To Colorado History?

The Rex Theatre curtain provides a wonderful snapshot of Louisville’s commercial history from the late 1920s. The family names present on the advertisements show a strong concentration of Italians in town. Colorado’s northern coal field brought many Italian miners to the area and towns like Louisville provided unique communities for their families to grow and prosper into business owners. Louisville eventually became known for its popular Italian restaurants as well. One of the businesses on the curtain is still open, still serving the same style of spaghetti and run by the same family that operated it in the 1920s.

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