I recently got the chance to visit the Downton Abbey exhibit in New York City. Although the popular British drama series ended in 2015, the enthusiasm for the show lives on. The opening of the exhibit in the United States had fans clamoring to experience Downton Abbey for themselves.
If you’re a fan of the show like me, you’ll love this exhibit. Many of the rooms within Downton are recreated, with careful attention to detail. One of the main attractions of the exhibit are the costumes worn by the actors.
Even if you haven’t seen a single episode in your life (like Matt) you’ll still enjoy the exhibit. A conscious effort to go beyond the television series is apparent (and perhaps necessary, to give the exhibit some more depth). For every placard providing Downton Abbey information, there is a historical placard to give context to the era in which the series is set.
The exhibit begins on the ground floor with a video introduction by Carson, the head butler. You are then transported straight to downstairs Downton. The kitchen, where much of the drama centers around downstairs, contains all the fixings of a busy day in Downton.
Continuing through the downstairs set, fans will recognize the dining room where members of the staff take their meals and find a few minutes of rest during the day.
It is here that the wall of bells is located, each connected to one of the rooms upstairs, awaiting to be rung and the staff summoned.
One of the most fascinating rooms was the upstairs main dining room. The table is set beautifully, and do take a minute to watch the video which explains all the intricacies of a formal British dinner service.
The second floor delves deep into the lives of each of the characters of Downton. Here is where you’ll get a crash course into Downton’s many colorful characters. It was interesting to learn more about the historical context in which the show is set. As dramatic as their lives were, the experiences portrayed on the show were not off the mark. The turn of the century brought many changes to Downton, like war, technology and evolving social norms.
The third and final floor contains many of the original costumes worn by the characters. The dresses are a delight to see up close, and the details of each garment are impressive. Several pieces of jewelry are also displayed. Of course, the infamous pants worn by Sybil are here, as well as some of the racier numbers worn towards the end of the series by Edith and Mary. All of the sisters’ wedding dresses are represented, a testament to the many romantic exploits of the Crawley sisters.
If you’re not able to fly off to England to visit Highclere Castle, where the series was filmed, this exhibit offers a more practical solution. Tickets for the exhibit are $30 each. Hurry – the Downton Abbey exhibition will only be in New York until September 3, 2018 (but will hit the road to other U.S. cities thereafter).