Downton Abbey costumes could help St. Augustine recover from two hurricanes

Clothing from the show "Downton Abbey" may bring be just the ticket to help St. Augustine after two hurricanes in 11 months.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The much-anticipated Dressing Downton exhibit is now open at the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine.

This Dressing Downton exhibit showcases costumes from the internationally popular Downton Abbey television show. It blends them with antiques from the Lightner Museum's collection.

"Now people will get to feel like they are on set with the actors," said Nancy Lawson, the Dressing Downton Exhibition costume curator. 

The exhibit shows off fashion from 1912 into the 1920s.

Everywhere, this exhibit has landed in eight other U.S. cities and the turnout has been immense.

"There's something called the Downton Abbey effect," Jessica Fellowes said. She is an author and lecturer on everything Downton Abbey. She is also the niece of the show's creator, Julian Fellowes.

She said because Downton Abbey is so popular, whatever it touches, succeeds and sparkles.

"For example, in England, they've had an increase in tourism because of people visiting stately houses there," she explained.

One U.S. museum that carried this costume exhibit saw visitor numbers climb by 300 percent. The Lightner Museum expects 60,000 to 80,000 visitors in three months with the exhibit. Typically, the museum has 100,000 visitors in one year. 

"It will bring an element of museum-goers and visitors like we haven't had for a long time," he noted.

Lawson said, "People love this show, and they are going to come here in droves and the hotels are going to be full and the restaurants are going to be full."

In fact, there are what's called 'costume groupies'. They are people who go from city to city, following this traveling exhibit.

Downton has brought people together all over the world. The groupies are not necessarily all Americans. That's what's extraordinary about Downton.

"We've had numerous calls and emails from people from Texas and California who will be coming to see this exhibit at some point," Harper said. 

That Downton Abbey fever could help this building, this city, and its tourism industry recover from flooding from two hurricanes in less than a year.

Harper stated, "Despite two hurricanes in a row, we're open for business."

And maybe a tip of the Downton Abbey hat will help St. Augustine.

And it will shine a spotlight on it and say, 'this is something good happening here in the next three months,'" Fellowes smiled.

The Dressing Downton exhibit will be at the Lightner Museum until January 7. 

For more information, click here. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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