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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The DIANA Exhibit in Grand Rapids, Michigan

One late morning, I was getting ready to make up our dinner for that night and I flipped on the tv.

eightWest was on.

eightWest is a local talk show that has been on for a year now. It's not a show I follow faithfully but if it happens to be on I watch it. This particular episode they were talking about the Diana exhibit that was coming to Grand Rapids and since my mom and I have been planning on going since we first heard it was arriving in our city, I ended up just standing there watching the whole segment.

It ended with the hosts, Rachel and Terri, offering 1oo free pairs of tickets to a special showing of the Diana exhibit to the first 100 people to email them.

I didn't know their email. It was up on the screen and my fingers were flying over my blackberry curve. I sent the email as fast as I could type out my message letting them know I wanted to go. Don't even know what I said but I do know I sat there wondering if I sent it right and if I didn't should I retry and if I retry and the first message DID go through would I be disqualified and if that happened how crushed would I be?

I won two tickets.

I called my mom and left her a message. She called me back, nearly able to speak she was so excited.

My mom is the biggest Diana fan I know.

I grew up knowing all about the princess in England who had boys just a little younger than me. My mom knew it all. She woke up early to watch THE wedding, she had a trunk that was filled with magazine articles and what-nots of Diana's life. She had just gotten rid of a vast majority of the magazines the summer Diana passed away and my mom totally kicked herself for that.

I do remember, vividly, the day she died. I called my mom on the phone in the apartment on the first summer Jake and I were married and my mom and I both cried. I watched the funeral and heard about the wedding, my mom watched the funeral and remembered the wedding she had seen there.

There is no one else at all that I would take with me to see the exhibit.

And we got to see it a FULL DAY before it opened to the public. Thrill!!!!!

I knew there was no way I could go see the Diana exhibit without wearing heels and a dress, hello, its DIANA and it was so much fun to dress up to head out. There were ladies there in jeans, and there was a girl in a formal gown...quite the variation and eightWest went all out for us. It was decorated beautifully with fresh flowers, the elaborate cake that imitated the wedding cake of Prince Charles and Lady Diana...we even each received little goodie bags with a few mementoes and were served cupcakes and punch while live music played.

But we were all there for one see the exhibit.

There are no cameras allowed. It is understandable, the flash could ruin the clothes. But eightWest took oodles of pics of the "reception" (none have my mom and I in them! :) ) and you can see them on their Facebook page.

This is a timed exhibit...only a few people are allowed through in a certain amount of time. When one is purchasing tickets, you purchase them for a set time. I find this to be brilliant. Even with us all there, they allowed us in a few at a time to keep it from bottle necking. I appreciated this.

When you first walk in, there is the crown. Glowing. It's breathtaking and no photos or video footage of it have done it any justice at all.

There is an introduction of sort following that, introducing you to the Spencer family and showing a few of the prominent women in the Spencer line and the jewels given to them. Loving history, I found this part a nice addition.

Next was bits of her childhood, including some home videos that you can't help but smile over. It was fun to see all the bits and pieces of her young life.

We went through a hall filled with pictures of Lady Di and Prince Charles and the history of their meeting and so forth. Then you round the corner and





I think my mom cried.

She could not leave that room. She read it all. She watched the short film off different scenes from the wedding. She studied the dress and it's long train, walked around it numerous times. She said later that seeing the dress made the world seem so small...never in a million years would she believe someone if they told her that early Saturday morning she sat there watching a kindergarten teacher become a princess that she would one day get to see that dress herself, in her state, in a nearby city....

She can never finish her thoughts on seeing the dress.

We then view many of Diana's charities and her handwritten notes to those whom she appreciated.

And then it was the funeral.

The room is scented and filled with a large screen showcasing bits of the funeral and at the foot of the screen are piles of dried roses.

No one spoke in this room.

Everyone sniffed.

It was painful to be there and yet awful to leave it.

Following this room was a large room filled with many of her outfits and pictures of what she was doing when she wore them. This woman had great style. The last gown she wore on her birthday, days before the crash, are in this exhibit.

And then it's done.

You walk out and see piles of books behind glass. I found this an odd place to have us walk out at, as though they had no other place to put the library. And then I read the sign...these were SOME of the books signed by thousands of people who stood in long lines to write their last thoughts to Lady Diana. It's amazing.

Seeing this exhibit was amazing. This is the tenth city this exhibit has been in the entire world and it is all of 40 minutes from my little farm out here. I am so glad eightWest gave us the special opportunity to see it before anyone else.

But seeing this with my mom will go down in my life book as one of my most favorite memories. Seeing her experience this exhibit made this exhibit. And for that, I cannot ever thank eightWest enough.

Thank you.

Although you cannot take pictures, I did find some video footage of the exhibit that you can see HERE. And if you are interested in seeing this exhibit at the GRAM, you can find all the information you need HERE. And if you do go to the GRAM, be sure to plan to go visit the 1913 Room, Cygnus (visit here so you can see the sun set, did that with my handsome hubby once...fairytale like, I promise!) or Bentham for some of THE wedding cake...which is on my mom and my's short list of things to do. We didn't have time Monday, we fully intend on getting a piece though!!!

All in all, go see this.....

And thank you ever so much, eightWest, for a beautiful, memorable day.


Becca @ Our Crazy Boys said...

Awh, LOVE it!

I'm so glad you got to go!!

chelsea said...

What an amazing experience! SO glad you got to go, and won the tickets, and had that experience with your mom.
*Love* this!

Kristine said...

How lovely you got to see the exhibit! I want to go to it. I remember everything about Diana's wedding to Charles...such an event! It was such a tragedy when she died.

And you are one of the luckiest people in the Kudos on you for winning the tickets and giving your mother such as wonderful gift :D

Anonymous said...

I've seen the coverage on Eight West and honestly wondered who in the world would want to go to this. (sorry)

I loved the fairytale of Diana and I remember all too well when she died. My middle school daughter was devastated!

I'm glad the exhibit brought great joy to you and your mom and I'm glad we are all different enjoying different things in this life. (Now a chocolate exhibit, I'd be the first in line, hehe)

I know Diana will always be remembered by those of us who watched her live and die.

What a fun time to spend with your mom! (Who, by the way, looks younger than me!)

Amy said...

I wonder if it comes(came) here. I'd love to go. She's such an icon. So beautiful. Such a loss. What a cool thing to do with your mom. I was out the night she died and came home to my mom bawling on the couch. So sad.