life above and below stairs at the latest exhibition opening soon at Coffs
Harbour Regional Museum.
‘Upstairs Downstairs’, the show interprets the lives of middle-class women and
their working-class sisters in the mid-late Victorian years through to the
is extremely fortunate to have some wonderful collections dating from this era
so visitors will see some very impressive antiques, textiles, garments,
photographs and memorabilia,” said Dr Leigh Summers, Gallery Artistic Director
and Museum Curator.
“One of the
most striking elements is the contrast between the luxury of the middle classes
and the hard lives of domestic servants.”
impressive single item of furniture on display is the large, heavily-mirrored,
decorative oak sideboard which dates from the mid-1860s.
today could accommodate such a sizeable and somewhat flashy item of furniture,”
added Dr Summers. “Large, framed original photographs taken in the 1870s and
80s will also be on display and these show the cumbersome gowns of the
occupants and the formal nature of photography at that time. The recreated
highly-decorated parlour hosts a myriad of other items that were deemed
necessary to the modern middle class- Victorian woman. Many lovely
garments will also be on display including heavily beaded bodices and rich
‘Downstairs’ aspect of this exhibition is in stark contrast to the elaborate
parlour scenario, featuring working-class items and illustrations that flag the
long hours, the poor pay and awful conditions of domestic servants.
panels outline the methods used by working class women to launder and iron
clothing and the strange concoctions and devices used to clean the house. Tea
leaves, carbolic soap, rhubarb, soda and raw potatoes were just some of the
items used in the Victorian battle against dust and grime.
exhibition will fascinate anyone interested in the Victorian and Edwardian era.
The sumptuous original textiles and garments will intrigue fashion lovers of
The exhibition will be
interactive with visitors being given white gloves so they can closely examine
some of the original garments to see how they were made.
The exhibition will run
until September 2.
Harbour Regional Museum is located at 215 Harbour Drive. Open Tuesday to
Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Entry is $5 per adult and free for children under