Museum of the Moving Image focuses on the popular TV show, welcoming visitors into Don Draper’s world with recreation of writers’ room and sets to hundreds of period artifacts.

Share story

NEW YORK — You don’t need to be mad about “Mad Men” to savor “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image.

To behold this intimate scene, which seems to breathe with lifeeven absent its fictional residents, can make you feel downright voyeuristic.

Now don’t forget and light up! Among the curios at hand are a circa-’60s cigarette machine, numerous ashtrays and Don’s totemic lighter, Betty’s cigarette case and pack of Salems. On a wall are ads from Don’s agency, such as “We’ll meet you anywhere. Hilton” and “Relax. Lucky Strike.”

For evidence of how painstakingly detailed “Mad Men” always was, notice the TV Guide in the clutter on a secretary’s desk: A label indistinguishable from the real thing designates the magazine’s addressee as “Sterling Cooper & Assocs” on Manhattan’s Avenue of the Americas — in type far too small for the camera to have noticed.

“Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men “(a title that confers proper credit on the series’ mastermind) has been a year in the works, according to exhibition curator Barbara Miller, who speaks gratefully of the collaboration with the museum by Weiner and his colleagues, even as “they gave us the freedom to do what we wanted.”

What the museum wanted, she says, is more than a gallery of gathered artifacts. A corresponding goal was to shed light on this series’ creative process, reaching back before its sets and costumes were designed and the cameras rolled.

With that in mind, the exhibition has resurrected the show’s writers’ room where, for seven seasons, “Mad Men” narratives and scripts blossomed.

“Mad Men” viewers will recall a key scene from last year’s midseason finale as outlined on a white board on the writers’ room wall: “Roger finishes and says that nothing has to change, except we’re all getting rich … Joan says, How rich? He tells her the number, then puts it to a vote. Everyone votes yes, including Joan. Outnumbered, Cutler votes yes. Cutler: That’s a lot of money.”

That’s pretty much where the action took a break, until now. “Mad Men” ends for good May 17, with the exhibit continuing through June 14

For those who experienced the age it encompasses, this exhibit will prove exotically familiar, a feast of bygone recognition. For anyone who ever drank a Coca-Cola in 1969, the mere sight here of its can with the diamond design could jolt an era’s-worth of memories. Stan Rizzo’s gonzo fringed buckskin jacket and Pete Campbell’s California-cool plaid slacks might leave you cringing at the thought of your own past fashion foibles

“Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” will help its visitors understand how a great TV series came about. But it’s also a ‘60s-spanning time trip that celebrates how Don Draper and his “Mad Men” comrades inhabited their world while it honors their flesh-and-blood contemporaries who made their home in that decade for real.

If you go

The Museum of the Moving Image is in Queens: movingimage.us or 718-777-6888. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday. Adults, $12; students with ID, $9; children 3-12, $6. Free admission Friday 4 p.m.-8 p.m. “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” runs through June 14.