Here I am being greeted by Carson, the Butler, welcoming me to the Downton Abbey Exhibition in West Palm Beach, Florida. Actually I have visited it twice and loved it both times!
Costumes, sets, many REAL objects, all carefully curated to present an interactive experience, makes this exhibition worth more than a second visit to be honest. Much of it is touchable! Below, the radio and the telephone.
On the left, above, checks; and right top, 10 shilling note, below, a one pound note.
If only Maggie Smith had been there to describe this costume for her role as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham...
Or I would have settled for Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley to tell me about WWI service .
Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding a meeting in his office?
While Mrs. Patmore and Daisy prepared meals in the kitchen.
The sets reproduced in this exhibition represent the sets from the series as constructed in the UK's Ealing Studios to appear as the rooms might have been years ago at Highclere Castle, the house that stars in the series. Many scenes are set at Highclere itself.
Above and below, Lady Mary Crawley's bedchamber.
Remember to click on the photos to enlarge them. Below, the costumes of Bates and Anna, valet and ladies maid to Lord ad Lady Grantham, in the set or the Servant's Hall.
More views of the Servant's Hall. They not only eat and work here; from time to time they gather around the piano to sing.
Probably most spectacular were the costumes, most accompanied by recorded discussions by the designers who used both period outfits and new creations made of period-accurate materials.
Wedding gowns were frequent and glorious!
I will leave it to fans of the series to sort out which season was which, with the time stretching from 1912 onward. I was far too captivated by the bling to study the labels, so shame on me.
The accessories -- jewelry, gloves and purses, and the hats were equally admirable.
The final scene was the dining room, reproduced from the original in Highclere Castle, but allowing for the cameras to move more freely. The screen behind the table shows the portrait of Charles I that hangs in the Castle one of many versions of the VanDyck painting. The changing screen also illustrated other aspects of the series. Below, an actual photo of the Highclere dining room.
You will never guess how the exhibition ends....the Gift Shop!
Victoria Hinshaw, Author