At Harry Potter, The Exhibition, fans can get a close-up look at more than 200 props, artifacts and costumes used in the films based on J.K. Rowling’s school for wizards. The exhibition opened to the public April 30 at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago. It will continue until Sept. 27, 2009.
Three Years Planning The Exhibition
The idea for a global tour of Harry Potter film props was sparked three years ago, said Eddie Newquist, president of branded entertainment, Exhibitgroup/Giltspur, the designer of the exhibit. The company and Warner Bros wanted to create an exhibit that was engaging and exciting, and true to the spirit of the films, he said, at the media premier in Chicago, April 29.
“The most challenging aspect was deciding which props to take as Harry Potter films are still in production,” said Newquist. The props were stored at Leavedon Studios, outside London, where the films have been made.
Museum of Science & Industry Host
“We are honored to host the exhibit. We competed with museums worldwide,” said Anne Rashford, director of temporary exhibits at the museum. The exhibit is housed in a 10,000-square-foot tent outside the main building. It is environmentally-controlled to protect the artifacts. Black ceilings add mystical ambiance.
The museum plans to incorporate hands-on science events into the exhibit, such as dissecting owl pellets and creating explosive chemical reactions.
Harry Potter Exhibition Experience
A visitor’s experience at the exhibit begins with a greeting from a wizard dressed in robes and a chance at the Sorting Hat, which tells new students which house they will join. It continues with the whistle of the Hogwarts Express complete with a replica of the train. An eight-screen pre-show with clips from the Harry Potter films, further helps visitors feel they are entering the wizarding world.
Explore Hogwarts Scenes and Settings
There are six areas of Hogwarts to explore. The Griffindor Common Room includes a moving painting of the Fat Lady, who guards the entrance. Many artifacts worn by Harry, Ron and Hermione are on display, including wands, Ron’s wool sweater, and the Marauder’s Map.
In the classrooms area, visitors can view the costumes worn by Hogwarts’ teachers, as well as Professor Trelawney’s crystal ball, Snape’s potions, and Lockhart’s numerous biographies. In an interactive Herbology class, guests can pull a screeching mandrake from its pot.
The Quidditch area allows visitors to try their hands at tossing a Quaffle ball through a hoop. They can also get a close-up look at the Quidditch uniforms, Harry’s Nimbus 2000 broom and the Golden Snitch.
Guests can enter Hagrid’s Hut and even sit in his giant chair. His hut includes a hatching dragon egg and just outside is the lovable Buckbeak, a Hippogriff, who is half horse and half bird.
There are magical creatures to see in the Forbidden Forest including centaurs, a Hungarian Horntail dragon and an Acromantula, a giant spider.
It gets dark and scary in the Dark Forces area where the Dark Mark looms up above. See a Dementor, the Death Eaters robes and masks, and “He Who Must Not be Named” – Lord Voldemort’s costumes. Also see the serpent wand and costume of the treacherous Lucius Malfoy and the pawn and rook from Wizard Chess.
The final setting is the Great Hall, lit by candles which seem to float above the room. See the costumes worn at the Yule Ball by Hermione Grainger, Cho Chang, and other characters. Get close-up views of Professor Dumbledore’s costumes, as well as a fascinating assortment of food props, including some mischevious treats.
The experience ends with applause from moving portraits and a visit to the The Exhibition gift shop, which includes many Harry Potter collectible items created especially for this event, and not available elsewhere.
For information on museum hours and tickets, go the Museum of Science & Industry online.