June 24, 2015

Downton Abbey® Costume Exhibition to Open at the Driehaus Museum February 9, 2016

CHICAGO (June 25, 2015)—Celebrate the sixth and final season of the beloved period drama Downton Abbey®, at Chicago’s Own American Palace, The Richard H. Driehaus Museum.

On view from February 9 through May 8, 2016, Dressing Downton™: Changing Fashion for Changing Times features more than 35 costumes from the popular British television series Downton Abbey. The award-winning costumes are produced by renowned London costume house Cosprop Ltd. Many use original fabrics and embellishments from the early 20th century, while others are re-created from old photographs, paintings, patterns, and magazine pictures. The exhibition offers an immersive new perspective on the show’s most memorable characters, both upstairs and down, while chronicling the great changes taking place in Britain during the tumultuous early 20th century.

Downton Abbey introduces us to the aristocratic Crawley family and the servants who inhabit the fictional country estate of Downton Abbey in 1912, just after the sinking of Titanic. We then follow them through events that uprooted British society on the eve of World War I and ushered in the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, and a new way of life. Lord and Lady Grantham; their daughters Mary, Edith, and Sybil; and the retinue of servants in their employ represent the full spectrum of life during this period as they struggle to adapt to a rapidly transforming world.

“It’s fascinating to see the evolution of fashion over the course of four seasons of Downton Abbey,” says Driehaus Museum Guest Curator Ruta Saliklis. “Throughout the exhibition, visitors learn about the historical and cultural influences evident in these visually stunning costumes.”

The costumes are presented in an immersive context, surrounded by the lavish interiors of the Driehaus Museum’s first- and second-floor galleries—once the drawing rooms, living rooms, libraries, and bedrooms of the affluent Nickerson and Fisher families of Chicago. The stories of the Fishers in particular, an urban family of new industry wealth who lived in the house from 1901 to 1914, create a fascinating contrast to the aristocratic lifestyle of the Crawley family in the British countryside.

“It’s essential, in our treasured historic buildings, to remember and celebrate the lives once lived in them,” says Driehaus Museum Executive Director Lise Dubé-Scherr. “These remarkable costumes imbue the Museum’s galleries with a powerful sense of that life, reminding us of what it was like for the Nickerson and Fisher families to socialize and entertain in grand Downton Abbey style right here in Chicago. And just as the servants of Downton Abbey play a central role in the series, up to eleven servants were integral to the care of this ‘Marble Palace.’”

Due to the anticipated popularity of the exhibition, Driehaus Museum visitors will be required to purchase advance tickets online or by phone. Tickets will be available for purchase starting on October 7, 2015 at DriehausMuseum.org or by calling 312-482-8933, ext. 21. Self-guided admission, an audio tour, and an exhibition guide are included in the price of general admission to Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times.

The Driehaus Museum’s exhibition program celebrates and promotes the fine arts, decorative arts, and design of, and inspired by, domestic interiors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The art of self-adornment, an evolution of culture and taste that includes fashion, jewelry, textiles, and even interior design, was a crucial component to the expression and reflection of wider international movements in aesthetics and the fine arts. Throughout Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times, the Museum will engage audiences through a variety of initiatives, including group tours and special exhibition-inspired public and member programming and events. The Museum will also feature a range of exhibition-related merchandise in the Store and will be available for special event rentals, such as corporate and social receptions and dinners.

Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times™ is produced by Exhibits Development Group in collaboration with Cosprop Ltd., London, NBCUniversal International Television Production, and Carnival Films/PBS Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey®. © 2015 Carnival Film & Television Limited. All Rights Reserved.  The special exhibition is touring North America through 2018.

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
40 East Erie Street, Chicago, IL 60611

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For all media inquiries regarding Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times, contact Lindsay Silk-Kremenak, 312-482-8933, ext. 39 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Michelle Molise, 313-549-3137 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Press images for Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times can be found on the Press section of the Driehaus Museum website.


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