26 May 2016 Enjoy the Downton Experience at the Museum

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26 May 2016 Enjoy the Downton Experience at the Museum

Experience life above and below stairs at the latest exhibition opening soon at Coffs Harbour Regional Museum.

Entitled ‘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 Edwardian era.

“The Museum 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.”

The most impressive single item of furniture on display is the large, heavily-mirrored, decorative oak sideboard which dates from the mid-1860s.

“Few homes 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 brocade skirts.

“The ‘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.

“Interpretive 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.

“This exhibition will fascinate anyone interested in the Victorian and Edwardian era. The sumptuous original textiles and garments will intrigue fashion lovers of all ages.”

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.

Coffs 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 16.