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This New 'Mad Men' Exhibit Lets You Hang in Don Draper's Office

Thanassi Karageorgiou / Museum of the Moving Image
Thanassi Karageorgiou / Museum of the Moving Image

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Update! Happy news for those devastated by the end of the show: The Museum of the Moving Image just announced that the exhibit will remain open through September 6th.

It'd be easy to blame fashion's obsession with all things late '60s/early '70s for our enjoyment of the Museum of the Moving Image's latest show, Matthew Weiner's Mad Men, but it likely has more to do with the fact that it's simply a fascinating exhibit. And though, like MoMA's Bjork retrospective, it certainly helps if you're already a fan of Don Draper et. al., by no means must you be an avid viewer to appreciate gazing upon mannequins dressed in mod mini dresses or stepping into a completely plaid 1950's kitchen.

The exhibit, which opens this Saturday, is relatively small—it takes up a winding chunk of the museum's third floor—but visitors are promptly bombarded with costumes, inspiration boards, full sets, music, original script notes, props, and clips. The first thing you'll see is the series' opener: "Mad Men: A term coined in the late 1950's to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue. They coined it," followed by the origin story of the show—clips from the films that inspired Matthew Weiner, notes he scribbled down about various characters and plot points, the very first page of the Mad Men screenplay, and a recreation of the show's Los Angeles writers' room.

The most interesting area for those who only came for the '60s fashion inspiration is the second room, where you'll find mood boards used by costume designer Janie Bryant to pinpoint each character's style, surrounded by original costumes like Don's suit, Peggy's stiff officewear, Betty's on-point romper from her modeling days, Megan's "Zou Bisou Bisou" dress (situated next to a looped video of her performance), Joan's blood-stained shift from the infamous lawn-mower scene, Pete's preppy plaid pants, and Sally Draper's first grown-up mini-dress. There's also a side-by-side of Don's two wives' sartorial journeys.

Further into the exhibit, you can step inside Don Draper's office (the one during the SC&P years) and the Draper kitchen in Ossining, complete with vintage cookbooks, a pink rotary phone, and that plaid wallpaper, plus a collection of props that includes a wall of Don Draper's best advertising campaigns, Betty's cigarettes, and naturally, the secret box.

There's also an interactive station where you can choose one of the songs used in the end credits to play throughout the room (think Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice"), followed by comments from Matthew Weiner on why he chose each track. Nearby, there's an iPad that allows you to scroll through the opening credit sequence, along with other, ultimately rejected storyboards that could have replaced the falling man surrounded by '50s advertisements.

Though we'll have to wait until next month for the series' final premiere, the Museum of the Moving Image's show lasts until June 14th. To get an up-close look at the costumes, sets, and props from the exhibit, scroll through the gallery below.


Museum of the Moving Image

36-01 35th Avenue, Queens, NY 11106 (718) 777-6800 Visit Website