Think about the possessions you couldn’t live without. What are the things that really define who you are? Is it a high school year book, family photos, a diary? No matter who we are the keepsakes of our lives hold special meaning for us as well as our loves ones. They are proof of the memories we hold dear. For Princess Diana’s family the only difference is they decided to share them with the world.
The Spencer family has created an exhibit of Princess Diana’s personal effects from childhood through adulthood and has loaned them to many U.S. cities. There are one hundred and fifty objects in total including ballet slippers, homemade cards for her parents, rare family movies, her infamous wedding dress, many of her gowns, and crown jewels.
The exhibit starts at the beginning of her life and as you move from room to room you proceed from one phase of the Princess’s life to another until finally you reach her untimely death. Even that is recorded. There are countless books, cards, and letters that were left at palaces all over London the week Diana died. Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” is heard playing. Her brother Charles’ incredibly moving eulogy is blow up big across the walls to read, while the original drafts are encased in glass.
I originally saw this exhibit at the National Constitution Center in 2009. This center in the heart of Philadelphia has many great things to see about the history of the founding of America. There are life size replicas of the signers of the Constitution for crying out loud! That is what lead me there.
But then I saw the posters for “Diana: A Celebration”. I wanted to go in to see that wedding gown stretched out in all its 25 foot glory. It is really a site to behold. But as I walked through the exhibit I got a feel for this woman I never knew and a sense of what the world lost. As I watched her grow from a small child to see her standing beside her own children I felt as her life was flashing before my eyes. It was wonderful and awful all at the same time. To capture a life as big as Diana’s and manage to put it into a few rooms without dimming her light is remarkable. This is the kind of exhibit you can see over and over again without ever tiring of it.
It is hands down one of the best I have ever been to, which is why when this exhibit moved to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in 2011 I went back.
I had never been to Foxwoods and it seemed like a good excuse. It was the last time this exhibit would be in reach. Foxwoods is fantastic. I loved how nice it was, how everything looks like shops. Decorative themes go a long way with me.
The exhibit here was slightly different than I remembered but I am not positive if it were rearranged or if I was remembering it differently. Either way the material was the same and just as moving.
When they say Diana was the people’s Princess this exhibit makes that statement all too real.
This exhibit can now be seen at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
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