Photo by Thanassi Karageorgiou / Museum of the Moving Image
Step into the world of Mad Men at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, until Sept. 6. Matthew Weiner, the creator of the wildly popular series, which wraps up this year, has shared items that allow fans a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show, from the ideas to the props, and it makes for a fascinating exhibit.
From the office outfits to the party dresses, you can walk among 33 of the costumes of Mad Men characters. The short, black shift dress Megan wore to sing Zou Bisou Bisou at Don’s 40th birthday party, Joan’s green dress stained with blood from the lawnmower party incident; Pete’s plaid trousers, Sally Draper’s white go-go boots and Betty Draper’s housecoat. You can see them all. (As well as Don Draper’s hat and even the contents of his wallet, which demonstrates just how detailed the backstories are.)
The Writing Notes
Anyone interested in the writing process, or just a superfan, will salivate at the scripts and idea notes, many with handwritten notes in the margins. There is the script from the Season 1 finale, The Wheel, which features an alternate ending—find them mounted near the writer’s room section of the exhibit. There are also handwritten pages from Matthew Weiner’s journal, where he sketched out his early ideas for the show and the characters.
Every so often, you’ll come across a screen playing a scene from the show and beside it are artifacts, costumes and props from the episode. One example: The episode where Betty and Megan both throw parties on the same night; one, a wild, 70’s style shindig, the other a stuffy political affair. Nearby are the props and costumes from both events. The clips help to jog the memory and tie everything together.
You can step in to Don and Betty Draper’s kitchen, complete with oak paneling, gingham wallpaper and teaspoon collection. You can also step into Don Draper’s office at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, complete with company letterhead and office coffee mug on the desk, plus a fully stocked bar cart. The sets had been dismantled, kept in storage after filming, transported cross-country, rebuilt and then dressed by the show’s set decorator.
Seeing things like Don Draper’s shoebox (containing his old family photos and his dog tags) gives viewers a new appreciation for the attention to detail on the show. From the boxes of Lucky Strike cigarettes to the letterhead on the desks at Sterling Cooper, it was all important. We see ad agency posters, a ’60s era cigarette machine, furniture from the sets, old TV sets with their giant consoles. Cool, cool, mad cool.