While visiting New York I saw the Downton Abbey Exhibition. I knew it would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane but wasn’t quite prepared for the attention to detail on the highest level.
The Exhibition is less a museum display and more an immersive experience of touring the iconic home, with fascinating historical context.
The display is structured as a visit to the stately home that aims to give context to the hundreds of props, over 50 costumes and fully recreated sets not just in the world of the show, but the real historical and social issues of its era.
Visitors are greeted by Downton’s butler, Mr. Carson, one of several new videos created by series stars for the exhibit.
Majestic hallways echo with the sounds of cooking as they guide you to Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen filled with smells of baking and a pot “bubbling” on the stove. Pass through to the infamous bell board in the servants workroom, then Mr. Carson’s office, all faithfully recreated. The rooms were configured by the same set designer who worked on the show, with delicately crafted props like letters and bills that didn’t necessarily make it onto camera adding additional context.
I was most impressed with the third floor. It is a fashion showcase of some of the most memorable costumes of the series. They included Lady Mary's and Lady Edith's wedding dresses, Mary's Season 2 two proposal dress, Rose’s royal presentation dress and even Sybil’s boho harem pants. Costumes were curated by Anna Robbins, who was the costume designer for seasons 5 and 6.
It’s all over so fast, and before you know it, Mr. Carson is declaring in that rumbling bass of his: “Perhaps we’ll meet again. You never know.”
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is in NY only till Jan. 31 It will be traveling to other, still-to-be-announced cities in America.