If the single sentence, ”I’m going upstairs to take off my hat” makes your heart sing, then you need to hightail it over to “Downton Abbey The Exhibition” which opens Saturday at the Culture Lab (formerly Macy’s) at City Place. This cleverly curated immersive walk through Downton Abbey (also the name of what is arguably PBS’s most popular series) is nothing short of a joy for diehard fans, and will likely delight even those who have never seen it.
The exhibit begins in the lobby, complete with the theme song of the program, and, after the cast greets you, quickly draws you into gallery after gallery of Downton scenes, perfectly appointed rooms lifted from the set, background and interactive stations. You will see Mr. Carson from time to time reminding you that you are welcome (but also dispensing some dining table protocol at the lavishly set dining table) and you will see Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen, complete with steam rising from a large stockpot. You will go downstairs and upstairs in the grand house, including Lady Mary’s bedroom (and we all know what happened there with poor Mr. Kemal Pamuk) and there is even an immersive segment in the library (or is the drawing room?) in which key scenes over the six-year series flash upon the walls around you.
There are more than 60 costumes on display (most curated with actual vintage clothing—who knew?) and a cohesive backdrop of cultural and historical content that helps bolster the events in the series—and the characters.
Gareth Neame, executive producer of Downton Abbey (who is also doing the movie) described the exhibit as a “legacy piece,” a true homage to this masterful and warmhearted award-winning series, and he is not wrong. There is exquisite attention to detail, a liberal sprinkling of actual footage from the series as you move through the galleries, and even an almost eerie sense that if you turn the corner, Mrs. Hughes may be there with a cup of tea and a kind word.
So, those of you Downton fans (and those of you who think that’s a misspelling), this exhibit is a way to drift back in time the age of British aristocracy, and to all those Sunday nights that once captivated you.
Or, as the Dowager Countess of Grantham once said. “You’ll find there’s never a dull moment in this house.”
Downton Abbey The Exhibition runs Nov. 10 through April 22 at CityPlace, 575 Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach. It will be open daily between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at $35 for adults, free for accompanied children under 14. For more information, visit downtonexhibition.com