Diana, A Celebration

Diana, A Celebration exhibit handout

When it is 15 degrees outside, I tend to look for indoor activities.  Luckily for me, the Grand Rapids Art Museum is hosting the Diana, A Celebration exhibit.  So I spent Thursday Jan. 20th at GRAM.  The exhibit is nine galleries of Spencer family jewels, childhood memorabilia, photo albums, film clips, Spencer family tree information, Diana’s dresses and of course, Diana’s wedding dress. 

The exhibit starts out with the Spencer family’s stunning diamond tiara.  The next room is filled with Spencer family jewels, paintings of the Spencer women, photos of the Anthorp estate and one wall with the Spencer family tree.  (http://www.althorp.com/)

Spencer family diamond tiara.

The exhibit takes you through Diana’s childhood with film clips of her first birthday and other childhood activities, all taken by her father.  You are able to view her childhood passport and school report card among other personal items.  These rooms educate the visitors with her background in preparation for the grandest room of all, the wedding dress room.  The exhibit claimed that Diana said it was one of the best days of her life, no big surprise here.  She was only 20 when she married Prince Charles and became Her Royal Highness.  A film loop of the wedding day plays on the wall while her wedding dress, with the train fully extended, takes center stage.  Included in the glass enclosure are the tiara she wore at the wedding, her shoes, and the bride’s maids dress.

The room with Diana’s wedding dress on display

One room of the exhibit is dedicated entirely to Diana’s charity work, including hand-written letters and many photographs.   The next room in the exhibit is dedicated to her death.  A large screen plays film clips of her funeral while Elton John sings his modified “Candle in the Wind” for Diana.  The text of her brother’s eulogy is displayed on the wall.  You can’t be in this room without getting choked up.  Near the end of the exhibit is the room of Diana’s dresses.  There are dress suits, short dresses and evening gowns from her early days through 1997, the year of her death.  Many of the gowns are accompanied by photos of Diana in the dress.  The dresses looked much better, more stylish, actually on Diana, than on the mannequins, but it was wonderful to see the actual dresses.  One orange dress suit looked rather garish on the mannequin, but in the photo of Diana wearing the dress, it looked beautiful.  This room was very crowded as the visitors took their time gazing at the dresses.  I heard many conversations of which dress was a favorite, and other such comments.  The day of my visit, I saw only two men in the crowd.  The Today Show had been filming earlier in the day, for a Today Show segment to run today, Friday Jan. 21st.

The exhibit ends in a gift shop, naturally.  I had no plans to purchase anything, but the little heart-shaped earrings whose “design is inspired by the tiara Diana, Princess of Wales wore on her wedding day 29th July 1981” were very nice and sparkly, so I ended up taking them home.

The Grand Rapids museum also houses a collection of Andy Warhol works called “Endangered Species” and an exhibition called “100 years – 100 Works of Art”  (http://www.artmuseumgr.org/).


From the 100 years / 100 Works of Art exhibit

Andy Warhol’s “Endangered Species: Grevy’s Zebra”, 1983


Andy Warhol's "Endangered Species: Africa Elephant". 1983


The exterior of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Joanie, who is planning on taking April 29th off from work so she can watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

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2 Responses to Diana, A Celebration

  1. Monex says:

    Charles Spencer the ninth Earl Spencer will discuss Princess Dianas philanthropy when he visits Grand Rapids on Monday. ..GRAND RAPIDS Though millions of American women rose early in the morning to watch Princess Diana marry Prince Charles in July 1981 Kristen Gaertner who was at camp could not…She had to settle for listening on a transistor radio while deep in the woods…I can remember the church bells ringing from this radio broadcast of her wedding from when I was in my teens she recalled…Though she didnt see John Spencer the eighth Earl Spencer walk his daughter down the aisle the Saginaw resident will get to see Charles Spencer the ninth Earl Spencer Monday at the Grand Rapids Art Museum…Spencer will visit Grand Rapids in connection with the museums exhibition on the life of his sister Princess Diana…Gaertner 43 was the winner of a contest on Facebook in December to win free tickets to the museums reception Monday evening for Spencer…For her contest entry Gaertner talked about a research paper she wrote in high school about Princess Dianas charitable work focusing on her efforts to eradicate land mines…Gaertner a certified occupational therapy assistant followed the life of Princess Diana until her death following a car accident in 1997…Im trying to keep up on her sons Princes William and Harry and the recent engagement of her eldest son William to Kate Middleton she said.

  2. Joanie says:

    OH Laura, What a wonderful blog. I loved Diana so much. And yes, I will be attending the wedding, as I did his mother’s. My love affair with the royals started very early. I had an old spinster aunt that was a housekeeper by trade and in her room were all her worldly posessions. Amoung them was a picture of Queen Elizabeth in an old round frame. The picture was probably cut out of Life magazine and was ill fitting in the frame, but to she and I it open the doors to many hours of wonderful make-believe. In that eve bedroom we became part of the royal court, had high teas with little crustless sandwitches and exclaimed over the beautiful dresses of the Queen. Good memories!

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