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Celebration of Princess Di’s Life Worthy of Trip to Dayton

 
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Amy
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 4:13 pm    Post subject: Celebration of Princess Di’s Life Worthy of Trip to Dayton Reply with quote

Celebration of Princess Di’s Life Worthy of Trip to Dayton

JANIS THORNTON
Staff writer


The British Royal known simply as Di has been dead nearly nine years, and still the world seems unwilling to let her go.

Diana, Princess of Wales’ continuing popularity is evidenced by the hordes of visitors flocking to see bits of her life depicted in an impressive exhibition, “Diana, a Celebration,” making its final U.S. stop at the Dayton (Ohio) Art Institute.

The three-hour drive from Clinton County is just close enough to allow for a rare opportunity to savor the deeply moving tribute to the woman who, for 16 years as the “People’s Princess,” captivated the world with her magnetic smile, provocative lifestyle and philanthropic deeds.

The exhibition, assembled by her brother Charles, the ninth Earl Spencer, is intended to allow visitors to share in the milestones of her many roles during her stunted life.

He has said if the exhibit inspires people to help carry on the charitable good that his sister brought to the world, “… then that would, of course, be wonderful.”

The exhibit starts with a dramatic display of the Spencer tiara, followed by a briefing on Diana’s heritage, with emphasis on the influential women who preceded her.

A gallery devoted to her childhood comes next, showing toys, clothing, diary excerpts, paintings, home movies and photos depicting Diana from birth through her *beep* years spent on her ancestral estate, Althorp. The many photos snapped of her underscore the irony that the world’s most photographed woman began life as her amateur photographer father’s favorite subject.

Next comes the centerpiece of the entire exhibition — Diana’s breathtaking royal wedding gown with its monstrous-sized train extending 25 feet. Nearby, scenes from the 1981 wedding are projected onto a screen, and glass cases contain many related items, such as the invitation and the box containing a small slice of the wedding cake.

Contrasting the happy event, the exhibit immediately progresses to an almost reverent reminder of Diana’s 1997 fatal car crash and her funeral. On display are handwritten drafts of her brother’s statement to the press and the eulogy he delivered a few days later. As visitors file quietly through the room, a continual loop of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” is the only sound.

The exhibition ends on a more cheerful note with 28 of her evening gowns, dresses and suits. It even includes the protective vest, sleeveless shirt and slacks she wore during her 1997 trip to Angola and Bosnia to raise awareness of land mines.

A sign outside the gallery states, “Diana once observed that she wanted to be thought of as a workhorse, not a clothes horse.”

But she was both, and so much more. This joyful exhibition is a wonderful reminder of the woman some have called the most glamorous humanitarian of the 20th century.

Even with gas prices soaring, the one-tank excursion to Dayton is worth every drop. After the Diana Celebration closes June 11, it will move on to China and may never return to the U.S.

Ticket prices range from $18.50 for adults to $9.50 for youth. Audio guides are available for $5, and well worth the investment. Tickets may be purchased be calling (800) 296-4426 or online at www.daytonartinstitute.org. More information about the exhibit also is available there.

The museum café offers an assortment of continental salads, also available on the buffet line, starting around $8.

The Dayton Art Institute is located at 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton. It is open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and Friday, it stays open until 8 p.m.
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