Dressing Downton
As the rest of the world braces for the final episode of the aristocratic maneuvers of the popular PBS TV series, Downton Abbey, on March 6, Chicago get to absorb the glamor a little longer with Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion For Changing Times, an exhibit which runs through May 8 at the Driehaus Museum. See 35 original costumes from the series, some with authentic fabric from the early 20th century time period.
As a luxurious estate from the same era, Chicago's Driehaus Museum serves up the perfect setting to view the details of fashion, cultural and political history. Even if you've never seen the show, the exhibit offers enough background and insightful tidbits to warrant a visit. Here are highlights not to miss:
Dressing Downton at Driehaus Museum

1. Lady Rose and Jack Ross' Jazz Era Pieces

The memorable scene where Lady Rose sneaks off to hear Chicago jazz musician Jack Ross is brought to life with Rose's hand beaded flapper dress and Jack's silk evening suit, complete with microphone. 

2. Cora's Gown from The Scotland Dinner

Cora's stylish evening dress that featured pointed hip flounces called panniers, was a standout. A net overlay covers intricate beading that wasn't so noticeable on the broadcast.

3. The Downton Tea Experience

Visitors can enjoy a traditional English tea service before or after the exhibit in the museum's elegant Murphy Auditorium, which is decked out like a proper English garden. The Tea Experience includes scones, cake breads, tea sandwiches and specialty teas from Chicago's Rare Tea Cellars. Note that tea tickets are sold separately from the exhibit and advance purchase is required.


4. The Driehaus Museum Stained Glass Dome

The museum was once the Gold Coast mansion of banker Samuel M. Nickerson and its filled with lavish  period furnishings that accent the Downton garments, including carved Mahogany chairs, and a crystal punch bowl that was displayed during the 1893 Colombian Exhibition of Chicago but the show stopper is the stained glass dome that glistens over the marble fireplace.

5. Chicago's Downton Counterparts

Don't miss the last room in the exhibit, which showcases photos and clippings of the wealthy patricians who ruled Chicago during the Gilded Age, including Bertha Palmer, who owned the Palmer House Hotel with her husband Potter and whose niece married into the Russian aristocracy.


* Visitor Tips

Some dates for Dressing DowntonTM: Changing Fashion for Changing Times are sold out. Please purchase your timed ticket before visiting the museum. Buy online or by calling 312.482.8933, ext. 21.

Museum general admission includes the Dressing Downton exhibition, audioguide, and exhibition guide. Tea tickets are sold separately.

  • Admission: $15-25 (free children 5 years and younger)
  • Extended Museum Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 10am-6pm; the museum is closed Mondays

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

See more exhibition photos below, and discover other blockbuster museum exhibits opening in 2016 to add to your Chicago itinerary.

Dressing Downton at Driehaus Museum

Dressing Downton at Driehaus Museum

Photo credits: Carnival Films/Masterpiece - costume courtesy of Cosprop; Choose Chicago; Rosalind Cummings-Yeates