We had been talking at the office for months about how we wanted to see the “Diana, A Celebration” exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Every morning we’d read another article providing us wonderful second-hand accounts of the beauty we were missing, and every morning we would make hollow plans to visit. We never did make it out to the exhibit; but this story does have a happy ending.
My family (hailing from the east side of the mitten) came to visit me for a few days over the holiday break. My mom has also been dying to see the exhibit, and since most of you probably don’t know my mother, lets just say, well, she usually gets what she wants (which worked out well for me - my dad wanted to name me ESPN, until she put her foot down!). So before I knew it, she had me online ordering tickets. Happy Ending!
After months of anticipation my dreams finally came true last Thursday when I got to see the exhibit. And let me tell you, I am so glad I got to see it firsthand.
Originally, the articles written about her wedding dress intrigued me. I like to think I know a little something about fashion. I have been known to make my own clothes here and there, and I can find my way around a sewing machine. So when I heard her dress had a 25-foot long train and was hand-beaded with 10,000 pearls; I almost spit my coffee out.
The dress was the whole draw for me. So you can imagine how far my jaw dropped when I first walked into the exhibit. I saw her crown, learned about her entire family history, learned that she was an avid dancer (she even shared a dance with John Travolta), saw letters she wrote to her father when she was young, and I even saw one of her report cards. It was unlike any other exhibit I had ever seen. There was a whole room dedicated to her humanitarian efforts, another whole room dedicated to her funeral, a room about her wedding, a room completely dedicated to her style, room after room of everything Diana.
But it was the last room of the exhibit that had the biggest impact on me. I must admit; I was really young when Diana died. So I really didn’t know much about her. I knew people referred to her as the “people’s Princess” because of her wonderful humanitarian works; but I had no idea how loved she really was. The last room was set up like a library in a home office. Ten-foot tall bookshelves stood out like two giant walls. It looks like any well read man’s library until you look closely at the spine of the books. The books in these cases were full of letters written for or about Diana after her death. There are 30,000 books in total. The fact that she impacted THAT many lives absolutely took my breath away.
I can honestly say that after coming out of the exhibit I felt like I had been friends with Diana for years.
How lucky we are, as West Michigan residents and travelers, to have something this significant shown in our very own part of the state. This exhibit has only been shown in eight different places, Grand Rapids now being one of them. The exhibit is still open until February 16, and if you haven’t seen it, you are missing out on a truly life altering event. You will not regret it – I promise.