Welcome to the new edition of ‘Park Life’, a series where members of the Normanby team take you behind the scenes at the park. Here, Madi, Collections Assistant (Decorative Arts), shares her thoughts on creating the new costume exhibition, Behind the Screens.

The beginning of March saw the doors of Normanby Hall open once again for the new season. As soon as you step through the doors this year, you can see things are a little bit different.

I have had the pleasure of putting together the ‘Behind the Screens’ exhibition, and in six of the rooms you can find twelve film and television costumes. North Lincolnshire Museum Service has borrowed these from Cosprop, a company which makes costumes for period dramas and films. Colin Firth as Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey and Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps from The Woman in Black – these are just a few of the beautiful costumes on display.

photo of Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech. Costume designed by Jenny Beavan.

Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech. Costume designed by Jenny Beavan.

In the first floor costume gallery you can find spectacular pieces from North Lincolnshire Museum’s costume collection, including a 1720s open robe and petticoat, and a 1790s gentleman’s suit. These objects illustrate the types of pieces Cosprop uses as research material, to make their own pieces look the genuine article. I organised to have close up photographs taken of the beautiful detail, and you can see these on the screen in the gallery as well as on the touch screen on the ground floor.

display photo of Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow. Costume designed by Colleen Atwood.

Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow. Costume designed by Colleen Atwood.

I love how the figures bring the rooms in the Hall to life, and it’s great to hear our visitors agree. It also makes me chuckle to hear from nearly every visitor: “They’re a lot taller than I thought!”, “They’re a lot shorter than I thought!”, “They’re a lot slimmer than I thought!”. These thoughts were in my head with every mannequin I dressed too! I also love the little secrets they have revealed to me. Finding ‘Mr Downey Jr’ written in ink inside his boots made me run to fetch my camera. Finding ‘IC’ embroidered inside Ichabod Crane’s coat made me sigh in admiration for the detail in these pieces.

Seeing visitors admire the beauty of the original pieces in the museum’s collection makes me proud that we can care for and share this history with you.

‘Behind the Screens’ is in Normanby Hall until 29 September 2019.

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