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History and Drama Come Alive at Downton Abbey: The Exhibition

October 27, 2017 - by City Guide News Desk
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The beloved television show Downton Abbey connected with viewers thanks to its unique combination of drama, history, and sense of place. Now, for the first time, visitors to New York can renew that connection with Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which makes its U.S. debut in Midtown Manhattan on Saturday, November 18th.

lady mary's room downton abbey

Style, history, and the glamour of the past come together in Lady Mary’s room at Downton Abbey: The Exhibition.

An immersive experience, the show transports visitors into the world of Downton Abbey with characters, costumes, rare footage, and loving recreations of the interiors.

“This is a unique opportunity to step into Downton Abbey—to wander through the sumptuous rooms the family inhabits, the kitchen and servants’ quarters below stairs, and to get right up close to many of the iconic costumes and props. The exhibition will appeal both to avid fans—well acquainted with the show—as well as those who are only just embarking on the Downton journey and want to see what the noise was all about,” says Gareth Neame, Managing Director of Carnival Films and Executive Producer of Downton Abbey.

From Mrs. Patmore’s hectic kitchen and the gossip-fuelled servants’ quarters, to the Crawley family’s glamorous dining room and Lady Mary’s bedroom, fans will get the chance to walk through some of the series’ iconic sets. Visitors will appreciate the attention to detail and high levels of craftsmanship: Donal Woods, Emmy award-winning Production Designer on the series, was brought on to ensure the accuracy of the creations. (In the words of Laura Carmichael, who played Lady Edith Crawley, “It’s so like the real Downton Abbey, it’s spooky.”)

downton abbey the exhibition costumes

Official artifacts from the show are on display, including telegrams informing Lord Grantham of the sinking of the Titanic and the outbreak of war with Germany, and the bell board from the servants’ dining room. The appeal here goes beyond the interests of fans of the show, as visitors have the chance to learn about British society, culture, and fashion in the post-Edwardian period dramatized by Downton Abbey. History plays a key role here, conveying the rapid change marked by eras like World War I and the Roaring Twenties.

Visitors can also get up close with more than 50 of the show’s official costumes, worn by stars like Michelle Dockery and Dame Maggie Smith. The clothing, which includes both Mary and Edith’s wedding dresses, Mary’s season two proposal dress, and Rose’s royal presentation dress, were curated by Anna Robbins (Costume Designer on seasons 5 and 6), who was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the show.

Downton Abbey aired for six seasons on Masterpiece on PBS in the U.S. and reached more than 26 million viewers in its final season, making it the highest-rated PBS drama series of all time. High-end video throughout the exhibition links clips from the show and never-before-seen footage with stars like Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham) and Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham). 

dresses historic nyc downton abbey

“All the memories are there for us and it will be the same for the fans,” says Sophie McShera, who played the assistant cook, Daisy. “It overwhelms you in a really lovely way.”


Downton Abbey: The Exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, November 18th at 218 W. 57th St. (btw. Broadway & Seventh Ave.), 866-811-4111, downtonexhibition.com. The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 8pm (last ticket sold at 7pm).

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