Taft Museum of Art Hosts Jane Austen: Fashion & Sensibility Exhibition's North American Debut

View 50 celebrity costumes from Jane Austen film and television productions.

click to enlarge Left: Dress, Spencer, and Bonnet, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. Dinah Collin, costume designer. Right: - Duster, Tailcoat, Breeches, Shirt, and Top Hat, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Colin Firth as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Dinah Collin, costume designer. - PHOTO: PROVIDED BY TAFT MUSEUM OF ART
Photo: provided by Taft Museum of Art
Left: Dress, Spencer, and Bonnet, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. Dinah Collin, costume designer. Right:Duster, Tailcoat, Breeches, Shirt, and Top Hat, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Colin Firth as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Dinah Collin, costume designer.

Jane Austen's books are coming to life at the Taft Museum of Art.

From June 11-Sept. 4, the museum will present Jane Austen: Fashion & Sensibility, a special exhibition that features costumes worn by Hollywood celebrities in film and television adaptations of Austen's novel.

The costumes are journeying across the Atlantic from Cosprop LTD, an award-winning British costume house based in London, to the Taft to be displayed in North America for the first time. 

click to enlarge Left: Silk Evening Dress and Turban, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Anna Chancellor as Miss Caroline Bingley. Dinah Collin, costume designer. Right: Silk Evening Dress and Turban, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Lucy Robinson as Mrs. Hurst. Dinah Collin, costume designer. - PHOTO: PROVIDED BY TAFT MUSEUM OF ART
Photo: provided by Taft Museum of Art
Left: Silk Evening Dress and Turban, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Anna Chancellor as Miss Caroline Bingley. Dinah Collin, costume designer. Right: Silk Evening Dress and Turban, Pride and Prejudice, 1995, Simon Langton, director. Worn by Lucy Robinson as Mrs. Hurst. Dinah Collin, costume designer.
The collection of "meticulously tailored ensembles will transport audiences to the Regency era through ball gowns, wedding dresses, day dresses, hats, jackets, waistcoats, riding habits, and other middle- and upper-class clothing," according to the museum.

Featuring 50 costumes and accessories, the special exhibition will overflow from the Fifth Third Gallery into the house and the permanent collection.

"The exhibition will bring to life beloved characters from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Mansfield Park, while revealing powerful themes of class, gender and social dynamics in Austen’s world" says the museum. The outfits on view have been worn by celebrities including Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judi Dench, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. 

A 7-foot-by-13-foot wall-sized map, depicting locations from Austen's life and those featured in her writing, will also be on display in the Sinton Gallery. Titled Jane Austen in London: A Wall-Sized Map, "the 18th-century map was lent to the museum by the Estate of Sallie Robinson Wadsworth," says the Taft.

Heighten the experience by sipping Austen-inspired tea selections out in the Taft's historic garden during a special "Jane Austen Teatime," available select Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. or 1:15 p.m. 

Jane Austen: Fashion & Sensibility  is set to open alongside the completion of the museum’s $12.7 million Bicentennial infrastructure project, which continues the efforts to protect and preserve Taft's historic house.

Although Austen's most-famous works were published in the 1810s — before the construction of the Taft — the setting lends itself well to displaying period-collection clothing and the Austen exhibit won't be the first time the Taft has done so. In 2016, the museum had a stellar exhibit called Dressing Downton, featuring costumes from the TV show Downton Abbey.

The Taft was built in 1820 and has had a series of prestigious owners, including Martin Baum, Nicholas Longworth, David Sinton, Anna Sinton Taft. and Charles Phelps Taft. It became a public museum in 1932 and a National Historic Landmark in 1973. It is Cincinnati’s oldest wooden residence in its original location.

Tickets are $18 for non-members; $16 for non-member seniors; free for members; and $8 for guests of members. Tickets are currently on sale and the museum is recommending advance registration.

The Taft Museum of Art is located at 316 Pike St., Downtown. Learn more about the exhibit and purchase advance tickets at taftmuseum.org.

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