Downton Abbey The Exhibition
I had the privilege of attending the new Downton Abbey exhibition at Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie! Some quick info before I dive in to the good stuff:
Where: Westfield Old Orchard in Skokie, IL (in the old Bloomingdale’s space)
When: November 10, 2013 through March 31, 2024
A Thrilling Self-Guided Tour
As a huge fan of the Downton Abbey series, I leapt at the chance to preview this exhibit. I’ve always been interested in history, and particularly English history. The exhibition transports us to post-Edwardian England where the characters and iconic manor truly come to life.
The exhibition opens with a gallery featuring our beloved Downton Abbey characters. The self-guided visit features never-before-seen elements designed to further connect us with the characters! For instance, you get to see production-used props up close (like Mrs. Hughe’s keys and the handcuffs used to arrest Mr. Bates). Exclusive footage from the series and original costumes are woven throughout.
Downton Abbey Scenes
I was SO impressed to see how perfectly the exhibition recreated some of my favorite scenes from the show. My favorite was certainly Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen! Other highlights include the Crawley family’s glamorous dining room, Mr. Carson’s office, the servants’ dining hall, and Lady Mary’s bedroom.
The exhibition is so detailed, with music playing and relevant props throughout. I really loved how they wove the historical and cultural significance of each artifact and prop into the exhibition. For instance, I learned about political change and the Irish uprising, racial prejudice at the time, and the life of a servant. I even took a quiz to determine if I am cut out to work at Downtown Abbey. And it’s no surprise that I failed miserably!
Downton Abbey Costumes
I’m a fashion lover and am fascinated by the styles of the early 1900s. I got to see over 60 of the show’s official costumes, worn by our favorite actors including Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville and Dame Maggie Smith. It was absolutely thrilling to see the costumes up close! Especially ones from memorable ballroom and wedding scenes.
I found both the servant and aristocrat costumes equally interesting and beautiful. The pantaloons worn by Sybil were my favorite because they were stunningly pretty, but they also symbolize Sybil’s bold political statement that women’s rights should be recognized.
If you haven’t watched the show, I hope I’ve convinced you to watch by now! Downton Abbey is a multi-award-winning global television phenomenon. Whether you’re a die hard fan like me or plan to watch the show in the future, this exhibition is definitely for you. The exhibition was hailed by The New York Times as “a cleverly immersive experience mounted with the same exacting care as the show itself.” That, my friends, is the highest praise!
Get your tickets at www.downtonexhibition.com!