If you miss the gracious Earl and Countess of Grantham, the acid-tongued Dowager Countess, the ever-proper and often-infuriating Carson, the capable and kindly Mrs. Hughes, and the rest of the family and staff at the most famous (fictional) estate in England, your heart will bound with joy upon entering “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition.”
After a video introduction by the man running the household (Carson the butler, of course), you’ll pass the green baize door of the servants’ quarters. The exhibition fills three floors: the “downstairs” area where the servants cooked, ate, and slept; the stately upstairs quarters of the Crawley family, including the library, dining room, and Lady Mary’s bedroom; and a third floor, where an impressive collection of costumes from the celebrated PBS series is displayed.
The no-detail-spared installation offers a chance to ogle costumes, jewelry, and sets (the formal dining room set for an elegant party is most impressive); interview for a servant’s position in an interactive display; watch video clips from the program; and learn about life during the time frame of the show (from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 to the early 1930s and the looming threat of fascism in Europe). Women’s changing role in society; the decline of the English country house; religious and racial prejudice in British society; the criminal justice system; and the life of a typical butler, housekeeper, valet, and lady’s maid are all explored. You’ll leave wanting to rewatch favorite moments from the show’s six-season run (which is probably the idea).
An hour is long enough to see the highlights, but superfans should budget 90 minutes for an in-depth look. The gift shop is a wonderful place to pick up items inspired by the show, ranging from elegant teas and soaps to Christmas stockings, jewelry, and mugs.
Why You Should Go: You always wanted to pop by Downton for high tea (and to smoke a fag with the help), so don your oxford and bowler hat for this immersive experience.
“Downton Abbey: The Exhibition”
218 West 57th Street (between Broadway and Seventh Avenue), Midtown
Through Monday, September 3
$30–$35; $28–$33 for seniors; $15–$20 for ages 4–12; $49 for VIP tickets
Reserve your spot with us for an ultimate VIP experience inside England’s most beloved (fictional) estate.