‘Key West Headdress Ball: Celebrating 40 Years of Creativity’ opens at the Custom House Museum with a reception the evening of Friday, Nov. 10. CONTRIBUTED

 The Key West Art & Historical Society will open its new exhibit “Key West Headdress Ball: Celebrating 40 Years of Creativity” at a reception on Friday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front St.

This exhibit will showcase many of the elaborate creations of the Headdress Ball – produced for four decades by the Key West Business Guild – including some from this year’s event alongside vintage headdresses from years past.  More than 20 assemblages will be presented, offering an up-close view of the work involved in creating pieces for the annual contest. 

The Headdress Ball was one of the first organized Fantasy Fest events, originating four years after the first parade in 1979. Initially held at the Monster Bar on Front Street, the headdress competition relocated to the Copa Nightclub, Bourbon Street Pub, Atlantic Shores, Southernmost Hotel and eventually to its new home at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater. Each year, headdresses have become more and more ostentatious, often incorporating unique elements such as moving parts, bubble guns and surprise reveals. The event is also the Key West Business Guild’s major fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting the promotion of the island as a LGBTQ+ destination.

Pieces from this year’s Key West Headdress Ball will be featured in the forthcoming exhibit ‘Key West Headdress Ball: Celebrating 40 Years of Creativity,’ which opens at the Key West Museum of Art & History on the evening of Friday, Nov.10. CONTRIBUTED

“During a conversation with Peter Arnow, organizer of Headdress Ball for the last 30 years, it struck us both that after four decades of the competition, the society should host an exhibition to applaud and commend the long-running program,” said Cori Convertito, curator and historian for the Key West Museum of Art & History.  “We enjoy staging exhibitions that combine both art and history elements. Headdress is the ideal confluence of these themes, and we are thrilled that our visitors will get a glimpse into the complex elements incorporated into the head pieces and accompanying costumes.”

The exhibit runs until Dec. 3. More information is available from Convertito at 305-295-6616 ext. 507 or [email protected]