Have you ever watched an episode of "Downton Abbey" and wished you could stroll through the kitchen, sit down at the dining room table and become part of the family? Well, that dream is now a reality thanks to "Downton Abbey: The Exhibition." Presented by Viking and produced by NBCU International Studios, the exhibition offers the first-ever fully immersive experience with recreated sets, 50+ costumes, official set pieces and never-before-seen footage. The tour made its U.S. debut in New York City this week, and there are plans to travel to additional cities in the future.
Visitors get to enter the world of "Downton Abbey" as they walk through recreated sets from the upstairs and downstairs, including Ms. Patmore's kitchen, Lady Mary's bedroom, servants' quarters and the family's dining room. There are thousands of official set pieces from the show at the exhibition, including the iconic bell board from the servants' dining room. Fans can also see several costumes worn by their favorite characters such as Lady Mary and Lady Edith's wedding dresses.
It's the perfect stop for families, fans and history buffs with tickets starting at $30 for adults, $15 for kids. The exhibition is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., including the upcoming holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day).
I recently chatted with star Michelle Dockery about the exhibition, a possible “Downton Abbey” movie and her upcoming projects.
Stephanie Heverly: Can you tell me a little about “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition”?
Michelle Dockery: Yes, it’s amazing. I was at the opening last week, and it’s incredible to see the sets and the costumes. It was really nostalgic going back into the world of “Downton” again. It is three floors and eight themed zones. There are 56 costumes, 26 hats, four wedding dresses, because of course, Edith and I had two each. Yeah, it is absolutely incredible, and I think people will love it.
Heverly: Do you miss “Downton Abbey” as much as the rest of us?
Dockery: I certainly miss it, and I miss the cast. It was like a reunion for us last week. It was emotional walking onto the sets. People don’t seem to be quite done with it. It’s wonderful that there are so many devoted fans out there.
Heverly: There are some rumblings about a possible “Downton Abbey” movie. Do you think it will be possible to coordinate everyone’s schedules for a film?
Dockery: Yeah, anything is possible. I would be very up to doing it. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Heverly: There are 50+ costumes in the exhibition. Did you have a favorite costume to wear as Mary?
Dockery: One of my favorites is what she [Mary] wore to the fashion show with Aunt Rosamund [Samantha Bond]. It’s a blue dress with a cream ruffle. That was one of my favorites. I also loved all of my country outfits with tweed and any of the horse riding outfits.
Heverly: I have heard that some of the cast members sneaked a couple items from set after the show wrapped. Were you able to take anything home?
Dockery: I didn’t, no, and I really regret it now. I should have sneaked something out. If there is going to be a film, well, there is my chance, isn’t it? I’ll have to pick out what I want to steal if we did do one.
Heverly: What set piece meant the most to you?
Dockery: I loved Mary’s dressing table with all of the pieces on it. You got a mirror and a hair brush, like one of those sets, and it’s all still there in the exhibition. It was like walking back on to the set again. I mean it’s incredible. Everything is still there, the hair brush that Anna used in Mary’s bedroom. And I love the telegrams. You can see the telegrams that were written, that we used in the show. So things like that, seeing that attention to detail, people will love seeing everything that went on behind-the-scenes.
Heverly: Did reuniting with your cast members on the recreated sets bring back any memories from the show?
Dockery: It was just wonderful to be there with everyone, Allen [Leech], who played Branson, Joanne Froggatt [Anna], Leslie Nichol [Mrs. Patmore]. The dining room, it’s amazing. Alan and I went and sat at the dining room table together and were reminiscing. We used to play games when we did those dining room scenes like “Wink, Murder.” There was a mustard pot which we used to keep little pieces of paper and one of them had the “X.” So if you got the “X,” you were the murderer. But unfortunately, that wasn’t there. I don’t think that was kept, but we had the same little pieces of paper in that mustard pot for six years. So it was amazing sitting in the dining room and reminiscing.
Heverly: The show had such a great cast, and you and your co-stars are certainly experiencing a lot of success since the end of “Downton Abbey.” You have a new series coming to Netflix called “Godless.” Can you give us the scoop?
Dockery: Yes, it comes out on Wednesday the 22nd, and we premiered the show last night. It's a seven-part series. It's an authentic western in many ways, but it's a story that hasn't been told. It's really focused on characters who never get their stories told, and women chief among them. It's an incredibly epic piece. I mean, it really is a masterpiece and something that [creator] Scott Frank has been working on for a long, long time. It has all of those elements of a western that people love, but it's just a new story. It's really turned the western genre on its head, it being so predominately about the women. It was incredible to be part of it, and Alice is such an amazing character. I loved playing her.
Heverly: I’m ready to binge-watch it; the trailer looked so intriguing.
Dockery: Take your time with it, though, because each episode is like a movie. It’s beautifully shot, and I found that I wanted to take my time with it actually. And see it on a big TV screen if you have one.
Heverly: I’m also a big fan of your TNT show “Good Behavior.” Can you tease the rest of season two?
Dockery: In last night’s episode, everything changes at the end. Just when you think that things are going well, it sort of turns on its head. It was a really interesting journey to play with Lettie this year, because she is struggling to live this normal life that she is so often being told that she needs to be and to exist in this sort of normal and ordinary environment. She can’t. It’s really interesting watching the journey, and how it all comes to a head. She’s an amazing character, and I like playing characters within a character. She’s a con artist, so I get to really play a lot in that show. I never know where it’s going, where the next turn is going to be. It’s always really exciting to read each script.
To purchase tickets for “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition” and for more information, visit downtonexhibition.com.