Dressing the Abbey

During spring of 2022, the Charles Allis Art Museum turned into Highclere Castle for a one of a kind exhibition. Original costumes worn by the stars of Downton Abbey™ that depict fashions of the British aristocracy in the early 20th century were showcased in the historic 1911 Milwaukee mansion of industrial entrepreneur Charles Allis. I had the privilege of visiting and photographing the exhibit with my partner near the end of its three-month run late in May.

Online announcements described and promoted the exhibit.

Dressing The Abbey: A Costume Exhibition

Dressing The Abbey allows guests to explore an exhibition of original costumes and admire the fashion from one of the most widely watched television dramas in the world, Downton Abbey™. Dressing The Abbey is hosted by the Charles Allis Art Museum, an English Tudor mansion, which is a perfect complement to the exhibition.

Witness the progression of style from 1912 to 1927 through 35 bespoke costumes, including hats and jewelry. Costumes range from country tweeds and servants’ uniforms to lavish evening attire crafted from award-winning costume designers.


Dressing The Abbey Exhibition

Charles Allis Art Museum is excited to host Dressing the Abbey, a costume exhibition which highlights fashion from one of the most widely watched television dramas in the world, Downton Abbey™.

Experience original costumes worn by the stars of Downton Abbey that depict fashions of the British aristocracy in the early 20th century. The exhibition showcases the turbulence and changes in the late Edwardian era through the 1920s through the fashions of the period while evoking fans’ favorite moment.

The exhibition’s award-winning costumes created for the British hit drama were produced by the London costume house of Cosprop Ltd. The costumes were created for the show’s aristocratic Crawley family and their servants who inhabit the fictional English country estate of Downton Abbey. The costumes range from country tweeds and riding outfits; servants’ uniforms and footmen’s livery; to lavish evening attire crafted from sumptuous fabrics and decorated with intricate embroidery, lace, and beading. Dressing the Abbey weaves popular culture, fashion and history in an exhibition borrowed from Downton Abbey’s™ wardrobe.


The Costumes

The Charles Allis Art Museum announced that it will host “Dressing the Abbey,” an exhibit showcasing many of the original period costumes and outfits from the award-winning TV show.

The new exhibit raids the costume wardrobes of both the wealthy Crawley family members and the servants tending to the estate’s needs, showcasing the everyday wear, detailed formal evening outfits and uniforms that helped authentically recreate the turn-of-the-century world of “Downton Abbey.”


The Mansion

When Charles and Sarah Allis decided to build a home that would eventually become a public museum, they turned to Alexander Eschweiler — a prominent local architect — to design it. The resulting mansion is strongly influenced by the English Tudor style. Construction began in 1909 and was completed in 1911.

Charles Allis Art Museum/Mansion

Artwork and Sculpture

Considered a reflection of a family’s wealth and taste, art collecting has been a pastime of the social elite for centuries. So, it’s hardly unusual that one of Milwaukee’s most influential industrial families collected important work from around the world.

Charles Allis Art Museum/Collection

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