Fear not - I've made sure this post doesn't contain any spoilers. Just a ridiculous amount of photographs. :)
I began watching Downtown Abbey sometime in the fall/winter that we lived in Michigan. I quickly devoured seasons one and two and anxiously waited for season three to finish airing and make itself available for viewing on Amazon Prime. It must have aired that winter, because I distinctly remember watching season 3 later that spring - when I was hugely pregnant with Gabriel. Season three + pregnancy hormones make for one hot mess of tears, in case you wondered. I wasn't sure I could handle watching any more seasons after that, but once a year rolled around and season 4 was available you'd better believe I dove right back in.
Every single time I began a new season, I did my best to persuade Michael to watch with me. I kid you not - I attempted to rope him in for nearly two whole years and I'm happy to report that we recently finished watching seasons 1-4 together! Michael now admits that the show is far better than he imagined (and far less girly, too).
My joy over finally convincing Michael to watch the show with me was twofold: first, because I wanted to introduce him to the show and second, because there was a nearby exhibit I was eager to see. I hadn't told Michael about the exhibit because before he watched, I assumed he wouldn't be interested - so you can imagine my surprise when he came home from work one day telling me all about this estate museum hosting an exhibit with costumes from Downton Abbey!
I had nearly forgotten all about it and was amazed at the timing of it all. The exhibit only lasts a couple more months and, having just watched all the seasons together, it seemed the perfect time to check it out. Adding to the fortunate timing of everything is the fact that this exhibit was going to tour across the U.S. - but now it isn't. We saw it at the only place it will be available to us and it was less than 30 minutes away!
The exhibit can be found at Winterthur (pronounced "Winter-tour"), a mansion-turned-museum. There's a lot to see if you ever visit the Winterthur estate - including house tours, 60 acres of gardens (with a fantastic children's area in the woods), and special gallery exhibits. The only thing I really cared about, though, was the costume exhibit.
The costumes we saw are the very same ones the actors and actresses wore in the filming of the show and I'm not ashamed to say that I felt like a giddy fan girl the entire time I snapped photo after photo after photo. For some reason I found it thrilling to look up close at all the outfits I had just recently seen on television.
The exhibit itself was cleverly orchestrated as a side by side comparison of the British lifestyle depicted on the show vs. the real-life American lifestyle at the Winterthur estate. But enough about all of that. You'd like to see the photos, wouldn't you? They aren't the best quality or most artistic because it was a busy exhibit and I wanted to be polite to others, but I think they help paint a solid picture of what we saw. :)
|Outfits worn by Anna, Thomas, and Mrs. Hughes|
|Dresses worn by Anna, Lady Sybil, and Lady Mary|
|Summer whites worn by Lady Mary and Mr. Crawley|
|Remember their trip to Duneagle Castle?|
|Outfits worn by Daisy and the one and only Mrs. Patmore|
|The infamous harem pants|
And last, but certainly not least - costumes from THE scene we all know and love between Lady Mary and Matthew:
This particular display was, in my opinion, every bit the highlight and epic grand finale I can only imagine the exhibit designers hoped it would be. They had a television looping the conversation between Lady Mary and Matthew while screens filled with images of snowflakes fell all around the costumes. It sounds silly, but it took my breath away.
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey and find yourself traveling to southeastern Pennsylvania or near the Wilmington, Delaware area in the next couple of months, I highly recommend you check out this little gem of an exhibit. Plus, you can take a picture in front of Highclere Castle. ;)
"If you are tired of style, you are tired of life."
-Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey