The Essence Of An Icon

The expanse of Princess Diana’s impact on the world is difficult to conceive – until now.

A new exhibit at the Frazier History Museum not only makes England’s Rose and her immense influence accessible to the Bluegrass State, but it also gives an in-depth look at how – and why – the Princess of Wales continues to touch lives around the world.

“Diana: A Celebration,” which will be on display at the museum through Jan. 13, 2013,  contains gripping photos, video and family mementoes capturing various moments of her life and death. Among those on display is footage of her funeral procession, which broadcast in more than 60 countries and was witnessed by an estimated 2.5 billion people on Sept. 6, 1997.

Fifteen years later, Diana’s life continues to inspire public appeal and commemoration. Her family, the Spencers, developed “Diana: A Celebration,” presented by Arts & Exhibitions International (AEI), in 2003 and has loaned the gallery to the Frazier Museum, the 15th venue to host the exhibit.

“(The Frazier Museum) had a staff member who had seen it at a previous venue and came back from the personal trip and said, ‘Wow, this is something we should probably look into,’ knowing strategically, at the time, we wanted to get bigger, blockbuster exhibitions – bigger both physically and bigger in its ability to pull larger crowds,” said Krista Snider, director of public relations and marketing at the Frazier History Museum.

The museum agreed to rent the exhibit from AEI after receiving permission from the Spencer family, who has the final say on which venues are able to present the exhibition.

On Sept. 15, the Frazier Museum opened “Diana: A Celebration” to the public. From the entrance of the 7,500 square foot exhibition to the last of the 150 personal pieces of Diana’s, including dazzling diamond tiaras, brooches and rings, portraits, rare home movies, letters and her fashionable attire, Diana’s enchanting personality and royal lifestyle from childhood to death is revealed.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, Graeme Murton and Nick Grossmark, the only two individuals permitted to touch Diana’s nearly two-pound silk, ivory wedding gown, uncrated the hermetically sealed dress in front of local media as the two prepped to install the garment, its incredible 25-foot-train, diamond jewelry, parasol and shoes, as well as a bridesmaid dress, in their new temporary location inside a fiber-optic lit case regulated for humidity.

“In Althorp, where the exhibition is in London, we don’t have space to show the actual full train out, so I think people, when it does travel, are very, very lucky because they actually see the full length of the train,” said Murton, an art handler for the Althorp Estate in England, the Spencer Family’s 500-year-old ancestral home, where “Diana: A Celebration” is on display every summer.

The dress and train were handmade over the course of four months by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, a young design team at the time of Diana’s wedding, seen by an estimated 1.5 billion people on television in 1981. The gown’s price tag was a mere $1,900 dollars, which included the cost of the bridesmaids’ dresses, and was purchased by Diana’s mother. The tiara she wore was a Spencer family heirloom.

Along with the wedding gown, 28 of Diana’s brilliant ensembles are on display, accompanied by photos of her sporting the garments, often with notable figures at her side. An entire section of the exhibition is also devoted to the several charities and causes she supported, such as awareness for AIDS, landmine victims and the homeless. A portion of the proceeds generated to the Althorp Estate from the exhibition will benefit some of these charitable causes, including the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

“(The exhibit) actually tells a very, very interesting story from her childhood … to her unfortunate demise,” said Murton. “But I think it’s so interesting because people, I think they know Princess Diana but they don’t know how much work she did behind the scenes. Which this exhibition actually does show. The charity work was unfounded, and she actually worked in charities that people wouldn’t want to get involved in. And did this not only publicly, she did this privately. … That’s why I think, (the title) ‘Diana the Princess of Hearts’ really did come through.”

For tickets to “Diana: A Celebration,” call 888.71.842.5387. Admission, which is optional and includes entry to the Frazier Museum permanent galleries, is $21.50 for adults (ages 15 to 59); $19.50 for seniors (60+) and $10 for children (4 to 14); children 3 and under are free. Advance tickets are recommended. Online and phone service fees apply. Special rates for museum members and groups are available. During “Diana: A Celebration,” museum operating hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Wednesday until 8 p.m. 

The museum is hosting a series of Princess Tea parties and a Girls Night Out event during the run of the exhibition. For more information, visit

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune