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August 2016

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Exhibit: Costumes of Downton Abbey at Winterthur Museum, Delaware

At the end of last month, i took a train trip up to Wilmington, DE, to take in the current exhibit at Winterthur Mansion and Museum, Costumes of Downton Abbey. The exhibit runs through January 4, 2015, and costs $20 to attend in 2-hour timeslots. Your admission buys you access to all the rest of Winterthur's galleries, grounds, and the mansion itself for the day you attend the DA exhibit and the day after. And, after the exhibit closes in January, it'll be moving to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC for a run there as well!

The exhibit features dozens of costumes from the show, displayed in tandem with artifacts from the Winterthur collection, such as dressing-table sets of the sort the aristocratic women in the show might own, or traveling trunks of the period. The costumes are displayed on forms without glass cases, so even though you can't touch them, you can really scrutinize the fabrics and trims and construction up close. Throughout, they have screens showing clips or stills from the show which depict the costumes in context, and in addition to the information about the materials and techniques used to make them, there are also graphics and information presented about the DuPonts at Winterthur (such as a photograph of a WInterthur footman preparing to serve dinner, next to a footman's uniform from Downton).

This is one of the best curated and most exciting costume exhibits i've had the good fortune to see, and i highly recommend checking it out, either at Winterthur or Biltmore. Heck, i'll probably go BACK to see how the exhibit changes when Biltmore incorporates their own historical documents and artifacts into its display.

But, without further ado, PICTURES. Because they had signs everywhere saying "please take photographs!"

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Some of Lady Mary Crawley's dresses made from actual antique textiles.

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Edith's wedding gown, displayed with the mirror so you can check out the back view too.

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An example of how some of the displays incorporate stills form the show, depicting the costumes on the actors in-scene, alongside period decor from the Winterthur collection.

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Sybil's scandalous pantaloons. Here you can see how in some displays, lines and stage directions from the scripts are reproduced as well.

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Dowager Countess gown!

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Daisy and Mrs. Patmore's costumes

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Don't miss the gardens! This fairy hut is part of a section landscaped for children, called the Enchanted Forest.

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Oh boy! Biltmore is practically in my back yard, only about an hour or so away!