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Buzz: Downton Abbey Exhibition Opens at Winterthur

Featured photo courtesy of Nick Briggs, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2010

"The first time I looked at the costumes up close, I was amazed at the incredible detail. They are surprisingly ornate. This is going to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions ever held at Winterthur," says Maggie Lidz, one of the three co-curators of the exhibition. Photo credit: Joss Barratt, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2012.

“The first time I looked at the costumes up close, I was amazed at the incredible detail. They are surprisingly ornate. This is going to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions ever held at Winterthur,” says Maggie Lidz, one of the three co-curators of the exhibition. Photo credit: Joss Barratt, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2012.

Costumes of Downton Abbey, a major exhibition of costumes from the award-winning Downton Abbey® television series, will open at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library on March 1, 2014 through January 4, 2015.

Forty costumes and accessories worn upstairs and downstairs on the period drama television series will be displayed in Winterthur’s galleries. The costumes are lent by Cosprop, the world’s leading costumier to film, television, and theater.

“The first time I looked at the costumes up close, I was amazed at the incredible detail. They are surprisingly ornate. This is going to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions ever held at Winterthur,” says Maggie Lidz, one of the three co-curators of the exhibition. Lidz went to London in July to choose the costumes directly from Cosprop. Winterthur’s popular exhibition, Fashion in Film, also featured costumes by Cosprop.

Costumes of Downton Abbey compares and contrasts the fictional British world of Downton Abbey with the real-life American counterpart Winterthur in the first half of the 20th century. Among the highlights will be Lady Sybil’s harem pants, Lady Mary’s engagement dress, and Lady Edith’s wedding dress. The servants’ call system, H. F. du Pont’s Saville Row evening jacket, and the du Pont family’s 1874 Tiffany silver tea service will also be on exhibit. Winterthur will host a wide range of lectures, workshops, and events, including programs for adults and families focusing on entertaining and country house life in Britain and the United States.

Several special lectures are planned throughout Spring 2014 discussing in length the forty costumes and accessories that will be displayed in Winterthur’s galleries. Photo credit: Nick Briggs, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2010.

Several special lectures are planned throughout Spring 2014 discussing in length the forty costumes and accessories that will be displayed in Winterthur’s galleries. Photo credit: Nick Briggs, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2010.

The exhibition will be organized chronologically and visitors will move through the times of day, both upstairs and downstairs. Visitors will enter past a working recreation of the bell system of Downton Abbey. Servants’ uniforms and livery are contrasted with elegant tweeds, sumptuous tea gowns, and elaborate evening clothes.

Winterthur Members will be offered special programs and times of exclusive access throughout the run of Costumes of Downton Abbey. In conjunction with the exhibition, Winterthur will republish, with all new color photography, its popular and out-of-print book, Life at Winterthur: A du Pont Family Album.

Visit Winterthur.org for more information on Costumes of Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey Programming

Costumes of Downton Abbey
March 1–January 4, 2015
This original exhibition inspired by the award-winning drama series features 40 historically inspired costumes and accessories worn upstairs and downstairs by the characters in Downton Abbey. Also on display are photographs and vignettes inspired by the fictional program and real life at Winterthur. Plus an exciting range of related programs.

Members-only Preview on Costumes of Downton Abbey Day
March 3, 10 to 5 p.m.
“Behind the Scenes of Costumes of Downton Abbey,” an informal and illustrated lecture by Tom Savage, director of museum affairs, and Maggie Lidz, estate historian, who will describe her London visit to choose the costumes. Guided Gallery Walks. Lectures at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Museum Stores and cafés open. Members free, guests admitted with guest pass. Call 800-448-3883 or 302-888-4600 for reservations.

Afternoon Lectures

“Downton Within, Downton Beyond: Lunchtime Lecture Series”
Lunchtime Lectures are at 12:15 p.m. in the Rotunda at Winterthur.
The lectures offer an opportunity to consider the artful presentation of television fiction as well as the varying histories, values, issues and clothing of Downton’s evolving eras. Period undergarments spark your interest? Jazz and mixed societies? Changing roles of women and fashion? Members free. Included with admission

March 20: “How to Costume the Costume Drama: Design, Adaptation and Recycling at Downton.” Alden O’Brien, Curator of Costume and Textiles, DAR Museum, Washington DC.
How does the costume designer put together the look of a costume drama? Using vintage garments and vintage fragments in newly made designs, while designing new outfits and reusing costumes from earlier productions are all strategies used to create the cohesive and beautiful look of Downton Abbey.

April 17: “Behind Jack Ross: Jazz, Romance and High Society Harlem.”
A’Lelia Bundles, Madam C. J. Walker biographer and Chairman, Foundation for the National Archives. Before Leslie Hutchinson—the inspiration for Jack Ross—arrived in London, he was part of a thriving community of African Americans traveling to Europe since the 19th century. Bundles has explored Harlem’s elite and the fascinating network of trans-Atlantic American, British and French friendships and liaisons between the wars.

May 15: “Downton Undressed: Underwear and the Fashionable Ideal in the Teens and Twenties.”
H. Kristina Haugland, Le Vine Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles & Supervising Curator for the Study Room, Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Costume and Textiles, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Feminine undergarments changed dramatically during the Downton years, as curvaceous corsets and voluminous layers were replaced by flattening brassieres and scanty underthings. This generously illustrated talk explores the undergarments and attitudes behind the revolutionary shift from Edwardian to modern aesthetics.

Evening Lectures

This series is held at 6 p.m. at Copeland Lecture Hall.

March 11: “Dumfries House: A Georgian Masterpiece Saved.”
The Hon. Mrs. Chetwode (Lucinda), Trustee of the Royal Collection Trust, will acquaint you with one of Scotland’s most beautiful country houses. Completed by Robert Adam in 1759, the remarkably intact interiors were furnished by Chippendale and Edinburgh cabinetmakers. The contents were scheduled to be sold in 2007 until saved by HRH The Prince of Wales at the eleventh hour. Members $5 / Non-Members $15.

April 11: “Castle Howard: Family Home and Restoration Drama.”
The Honorable Simon Howard discusses Castle Howard, home to the Howard family for over 300 years. This magnificent 18th-century residence is set on 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape in the heart of North Yorkshire. Castle Howard became known to millions in 1981 as the location for the television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, starring Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. Members $5 / Non-Members $15

Afternoon Teas & English Brunches

Held at the Winterthur Visitor Center

Afternoon Tea: March 15 &16, 22 & 23, 29 & 30; April 12 & 13; May 18.
English Brunch: April 4 & 5, 19 & 20.

Historic Autos Display & Lecture

May 17: Display of “Motorcars of the Downton Abbey era, 1912–30” and
Lecture on “Grand Motor Cars and Great Country Houses, 1905–41”

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