Winterthur's new exhibit, "The Costumes of Downton Abbey" opens to the public tomorrow. Featuring more than 40 costumes worn by fans' favorite characters, the exhibit seems perfectly suited for Henry Francis du Pont's childhood home.
Forty costumes and accessories worn upstairs and downstairs on the period drama television series Downton Abbey will be open to the public at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
“The first time I looked at the costumes up close, I was amazed at the incredible detail. They are surprisingly ornate,” said Maggie Lidz, one of the three co-curators of the exhibition, who also went to London in July to choose the costumes directly from Cosprop, a leading costumier for film, television and theater. “This is going to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions ever held at Winterthur.”
The curators created the exhibit so that visitors can experience the fictional world of “Downton Abbey” while also highlighting the contrasting world of Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont and his contemporaries in the first half of the 20th century.
A co-production of Carnival Films and Masterpiece Theatre, “Downton Abbey” depicts life in an aristocratic household of the fictional Earl and Countess of Grantham and is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed period dramas ever produced. It has won a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and seven Emmys including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.
“Winterthur is delighted to add this artistic and historical masterpiece to our already outstanding schedule of major exhibitions for the coming year,” said Winterthur Director David Roselle said when the exhibit was announced in July of last year. “The exhibit will not only showcase authentic designs from the series that has taken America by storm but also provide a remarkable educational experience by holding up a mirror to both places and societies. We think it’s going to be a real treat."
Wilmington Trust, part of the M&T Bank family, is one of the primary sponsors of the exhibit. Adrea Spahr, who works there in Wealth Advisory Marketing explained that the company’s partnership with Winterthur dates back more than 20 years, adding that “supporting the arts has always been a key priority for us. And, while we’re excited about the exhibit, we didn’t hop on the train because it’s ‘Downton Abbey.’ We’ve always been committed to Winterthur and delighted to be a part of bringing its exhibits to life.”
Communications Manager Kent Wissinger jumped in to say that he and his colleagues couldn’t be more excited about the exhibit, though. More than 25 Wilmington Trust executives will actually attended a special black-tie affair Friday night at the museum to preview the exhibit.
“It’s really great that we can help bring a slice of ‘Downton Abbey’ to Delaware,” Wissinger said.
That slice includes some of viewers favorite fashion moments in Downton Abbey, including Lady Sybil’s harem pants, Lady Mary’s engagement dress and Lady Edith’s wedding dress. Downton staff is also represented. The servants’ call system has been set up as well as the servants’ uniforms.
Winterthur will also host a wide range of lectures, workshops and events throughout the tenure of the exhibit, which will be on display through Jan. 4, 2015. Some of the lectures include “Downton Undressed: Underwear and the Fashionable Ideal in the Teens and Twenties and “Castle Howard: Family Home and Restoration Drama.” Events include afternoon teas, English brunches and a historic automobile display and lecture.