Designing an Exhibit for “Designing Women” at the Rep

The CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies assisted the Arkansas Repertory Theatre with creating an exhibit in their lobby for their Designing Women show in January and February 2022. Given that the television series prominently featured the Villa Marre, the decision was made to make the historic home the focus of the exhibit.

From the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry on the Villa Marre:

Side view of Villa Marre in Little Rock; May 2012.

“In 1881, Angelo and Jennie Marre built an elegant family home at 1321 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and 125 years later, its façade became familiar to millions of people around the world through its appearance in the opening credits of a popular television show. Television producers and former Arkansas residents Harry Z. Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, used the home’s exterior to depict the design firm run by the main characters of the couple’s CBS television series, Designing Women. The house—which has weathered storms, architectural changes, urban renewal, and neglect—is still one of Little Rock’s most prominent landmarks.”

Brian Robertson, manager of the Research Services Division of the CALS Butler Center at the Roberts Library, identified photographs from the Butler Center’s collection to use in the exhibit and provided digital copies.

Additional photographs of other historic homes in the neighborhood were also incorporated. Staff from the Rep enlarged the photographs, mounted them, and hung them in the lobby. The result was a fun, colorful exhibit that highlighted some of the historic homes in Little Rock.

From the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry on the Rep:

Arkansas Repertory Theatre, at the corner of 6th and Main streets; 2007.

“The Arkansas Repertory Theatre (commonly called ‘the Rep’) was founded in Little Rock by Cliff Baker in 1976 and is the state’s largest nonprofit and professional theater company. The Rep’s mission is to ‘create a diverse body of theatrical work of the highest artistic standards. With a focus on dramatic storytelling that illuminates the human journey, the Rep entertains, engages, and enriches local and regional audiences of all ages and backgrounds.'”

The collaboration between the CALS Butler Center and the Rep serves as a good example of how two cultural institutions can work together to better serve, entertain, and educate the community.

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