Costumes of Downton Abbey, a major exhibition of costumes from the television series “Downton Abbey,” will open March 1, 2014, through Jan. 4, 2015, at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Wilmington, Del.
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, a 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,” said Maggie Lidz, curator, Costumes of Downton Abbey.
Lidz is one of the three co-curators of the exhibition. She went to London in July to choose the costumes directly from 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 U.S.
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.
A co-production of Carnival Films and MASTERPIECE, 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. It has become the highest rated drama series on PBS. By the third season, it was one of the most widely watched television shows in the world. The Guinness World Records recognized Downton Abbey as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011.
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.