Kansas City, Mo. While many around the world are looking toward the upcoming royal wedding of Britain's Prince William, an exhibit celebrating the life of his mother — including Princess Diana's wedding dress — is opening this week in Kansas City.
Union Station officials hope the timing will help attract visitors from across the Midwest to "Diana, A Celebration," which opens Thursday and runs through June 12.
The dress Diana wore when she married Prince Charles in 1981 arrived at the station Monday and was carefully prepared to become the centerpiece of the exhibit, which features more than 150 items. The dress, with its enormous train, requires a glass case more than 25 feet long.
"The most famous dress in the world . for the moment," announced handler Graeme Murton, referring to whatever wedding gown Prince William's bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, wears this spring.
The traveling exhibit includes personal objects from Diana's life, including family heirlooms, photos, home movies and 28 outfits she wore while she was princess. It also highlights her humanitarian work, including helping AIDS victims and a campaign against land mines.
And there is Bernie Taupin's handwritten lyrics to "Goodbye England's Rose," which was performed by Elton John at Princess Diana's 1997 funeral after she died at age 36 in a car accident.
The tiaras were installed during the weekend but the finishing touches won't be complete until hours before a VIP gala Thursday night that already has raised more than $100,000 toward staging the exhibit.
Crews have been working seven days a week to construct the nine galleries in the 12,000-square-foot exhibit, including laying new carpet, erecting 400 sheets of drywall and painting, the Kansas City Star reported.
"Everything is predetermined in their layout," Union Station Operations Director Duane Erickson said.
Union Station officials said the exhibit will break even with 60,000 to 75,000 ticket sales, but they hope it will be more popular.
"This is a very big exhibition for Kansas City, for the region and for the resurgence of Union Station," Station CEO George Guastello told the Star when the exhibit was announced in January.
The station has struggled financially since it was restored in 1999, but in February reported that 2010 was its best financial year ever.
After its run in Kansas City, the exhibit will be returned to the Althorp estate, Diana's ancestral home in England.