As the first half of Mad Men’s seventh season was playing out last spring, Barbara Miller was scurrying to meet with the department heads and creative team of the show at L.A. Center Studios, in preparation for her own production. In what she calls a “deeply collaborative effort,” the Museum of the Moving Image’s curator of the collection and exhibitions worked directly with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and his team to select the props, costumes, and handwritten notes that would make up the exhibit, “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men.”
Upon entering, visitors are greeted by the Mad Men writers’ room, filled with Weiner’s early handwritten notes and script pages dating back to 1992, which would eventually inform the show when it premiered 15 years later. Thirty-three costumes — including Don Draper’s iconic suit, Megan Draper’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” dress, and Pete Campbell’s preppy California look — are on display, along with the box of Don Draper’s secrets, video clips from each season (with introductions by Weiner), and a music-listening station.
With assistance from the Teamsters Local 817, two large-scale sets were brought to the museum’s Astoria, Queens, location and — with the help of Ellen Freund, Mad Men’s property master for seasons four through seven — outfitted exactly as they appear onscreen. Visitors can step into Don and Betty Draper’s kitchen from their home in Ossining, New York. Don’s SC&P office, which first appeared in season four, is also present, complete with Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan records on the record player, a stocked bar cart, and framed photos of Sally, Bobby, and Megan Draper. “We hope that what people take away from the experience of the exhibition is something that enriches their experience of television in general, and of this series in particular,” Miller said at a press preview on Tuesday.
“Television is supposed to be a lesser art form,” added Carl Goodman, the museum’s executive director. “Suddenly, here we are, where the creative professionals are working in the field of television, which means it’s that much more important for us and our collection, and our programs, to chronicle this transition, this very exciting moment. Ten, 20 years from now, scholars are going to be studying this.”
Click through our slideshow for images from “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men.” The exhibit will be open from March 14 to June 14 in the Changing Exhibitions Gallery. The museum is expecting to keep some pieces from the exhibition in its permanent collection once the show ends. Don’t miss “Required Viewing: Mad Men’s Movie Influences,” a ten-film series curated by Matthew Weiner, kicking off March 20, with Weiner and a cast member present for a Q&A.
All photos courtesy of Thanassi Karageorgiou/Museum of the Moving Image.