Hi guys and gals! I'm back from Chicago and I had a fantastic time! A big thank you to Mr. Brian Packer, the Public Relations Coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry for all of his help.
So as some of you may know, the Museum of Science and Industry was the world premiere location for "Harry Potter: The Exhibition". This is the ONLY Midwest location chosen for this exhibition.
The exhibit will travel next to the Museum of Science in Boston where it will make its East Coast premiere. The exhibition opens on October 25, 2009 and run through February 21, 2010.
Here's a few fun facts about the exhibit:
- * Harry Potter: The Exhibition is housed in a 10,000-square-foot exhibit space.
* It took more than 12 53-foot tractor trailers to transport the entire exhibition to Chicago.
* More than 200 authentic costumes and props from six Harry Potter films are featured in the exhibition.
* Before the artifacts traveled to Chicago, they were all housed at Leavesden Studios outside of London, where all of the films have been made.
* Anything in the exhibit that is designated with an artifact card is an original piece from the film series and not a replica.
* More than 400 show lights and 100 small character and FX lights are used to light the exhibition, powering more than 70,000 watts of show lighting.
* It took organizers 400, eight hour days (3,200 hours) to set up the exhibition.
* There are 32 display cases and 28 themed vignettes used in the exhibit.
* All of the original costumes are displayed out in the open, allowing guests to get the very best look at the exquisite detail of each piece. Some of the more delicate and sensitive artifacts are displayed in cases.
* There are 40 characters and 19 creatures represented in the exhibition.
* The smallest piece featured is Cho's Yule Ball earrings.
* There are 16 wands featured in the exhibition, and 25 robes.
* It takes approximately ten museum employees to operate the exhibit on a daily basis.
* All of the music played throughout the exhibition is original from the film series.
* Overhead of the exhibition hangs 5,720 pounds of rigging, lighting, speakers, cables, and special effects.
*The exhibit is actually housed in a separate section outside of the Museum itself. You can see the large white tented area in a photo in our gallery.
The Exhibition is designed to give you the feeling that you are a First Year student who will be attending Hogwarts, and you move through nine distinct settings as you view the exhibition.
Setting 1: The Sorting Hat
In the first setting, you are greeted by one of the Hogwarts Staff who welcomes the First Years to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She explained each of the Houses to the assembled "students" and also described the purpose of the Sorting Hat. Guests were chosen to come and sit on the stool to be sorted and were warned that the hat can see all of your deepest, most hidden secrets. For each student chosen, the Sorting Hat spoke directly to them and sorted them into a House, just like in the films.
Setting 2: Pre-Show
We next moved on to the Pre-Show area, where guests watch an 8-screen montage of scenes from the Harry Potter film series. The montage featured each of the Professors from the school, Quidditch, Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and many other scenes from the films. At the climax, a train whistle can be heard, followed by the roar of the Hogwarts Express. The wall to the left of the screens rises to reveal a replica of the Hogwarts Express, thus letting the students know their train ride to the school has finished. Students are escorted along the train platform (where a wanted poster for Sirius Black can be seen), into the Portrait Gallery, which marks the formal beginning of the exhibition area. And yes, several of the portraits actually move!
Setting 3: Gryffindor Common Room
This setting brings us into the House of characters such as the Trio, the Marauders, and many others. Known for bravery, daring, nerve and chivalry, members of Gryffindor house wear scarlet and gold, which can be seen in the school uniforms on display in this scene. The Gryffindor area is guarded by a moving painting of the Fat Lady, similar to the gatekeeper of the common room in the films. Not only does she speak to you, but students can watch as the Fat Lady tries to break a glass with her singing. On display in this area were many of the original artifacts that belonged to the Trio in the film series. Harry's wand and glasses are displayed, along with the Golden Egg from the Tri-Wizard tournament. Ron's monogrammed sweater and wool hat, along with several Chudley Cannons items and the Howler sent by his mother can be found in his section. Hermione's time-turner, wand, and planner book. The members list for Dumbledore's army and Neville's plant are also in this area, along with the Marauder's Map and the box of love potion chocolates.
Setting 4: Classroom
Once the students are settled into their new dormitory, it's time for classes. The fourth setting explores some of the classes that the students experience at Hogwarts. In the Potions area, you can view Professor Snape's original costume, alongside his bubbling potions. The newest addition to the Hogwarts Staff, Professor Horace Slughorn, is introduced and can also be found in this area. His original costume is also on display, along with the wands belonging to each of them.
In the Divination area, students can marvel at the details of the exotic wardrobe of Professor Trewlaney and gaze into her crystal ball in an effort to predict the future. Also found here is the "Grim" teacup from Prisoner of Azkaban.
In these dark and dangerous times though, the students must learn to defend themselves. That brings us to the next set of "classrooms", the Defense Against the Dark Arts" classroom, which contains a number of magical artifacts used during lessons over the years. Professor Lockhart's painting of himself is on display here, along with a Cornish Pixie, his wand, a number of photographs of himself, and a large collection of the books he's written. Both his teaching and dueling club costumes are also included in his area.
A video screen shows us clips of each of Harry's DADA professors in action, as we move from Lockhart to Lupin. Remus' area features some of the largest authentic props from the series and includes the giant clown Jack-in-the-box and the wardrobe from his boggart lesson. In one of the sealed display cases, we get the opportunity to see his wand, a book about Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, and two of his gramophone records ("The Wizard Waltz", made by the Spell-O-Fone company).
While visiting this area, I was informed by a staff member that the suit currently on display is NOT the one that has been displayed since the opening of the exhibition. They had been contacted a few days prior by Warner Bros and instructed to immediately send the suit back to England, where it was needed for filming with David. A different suit was sent to the exhibit and put on display in its place. When I asked which scene it was needed for, the staff member said that it was for the "Wedding Scene", which would begin filming on August 10th.
Across from the Lupin area, we find Professor Umbridge, along with her collection of cat plates, picture of Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, the quill she forces Harry to write with, and one of her many pink costumes. Harry's "I will not tell lies" parchment is seen here as well.
Surprisingly, there was nothing in the DADA section (other than the video) for Alastor Moody, who taught the class during Harry's 4th Year. Quirrell was represented later on in the Dark Forces setting.
Moving out of DADA, we come to an area modeled after the Herbology greenhouse at Hogwarts. Students could see artifacts belonging to Professor Sprout, as well as get a little hands on Herbology lesson. We were able to pull a Mandrake from it's pot and experience the screeching sound the plants make when disturbed. This part was really fun, especially when people pulled up all of the plants at once and you could hear the plants all crying in different pitched voices.
Setting 5: Quidditch
Quidditch, the most popular sport in the wizarding world, is featured in this setting. Many artifacts from the series could be found in this area, including dozens of detailed Quidditch costumes and props (including the Golden Snitch). The Quidditch World Cup and Harry's Nimbus 2000 broom,Draco's Nimbus 2001, the trunk containing the Quidditch balls, and plaques showing some of the past House captains from Gryffindor and Slytherin were also included. Costumes included characters such as Harry, Ron, Draco, Oliver Wood, Cedric Diggory, Madame Hooch, and the World Cup costumes from Ireland and Bulgaria (Viktor Krum). Students were also able to try their own hand at Quidditch in this section, as a Chaser, by attempting to toss a Quaffle through one of the three Quidditch hoops. If you managed to score points for your House team, you were rewarded with the "ding" sound from the films.
Setting 6: Hagrid's Hut
Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts (along with teaching Care of Magical Creatures), is the focus of this setting. His unique area of the exhibition allows us to meet Buckbeak the Hippogriff, and gives us the opportunity to enter and tour a recreation of his hut. This is includes a bubbling cauldron, his costume, Norbert's hatching dragon egg (which actually shakes and rattles), a few copies of The Monster Book of Monsters, Hagrid's lantern, and his pink umbrella wand. Since Hagrid is a half-giant, all of his furniture and many other items in his home are all over-sized. Students have the chance to sit in Hagrid's massive chair to give you the opportunity to experience just how big he really is.
Setting 7: The Forbidden Forest
Just outside of Hagrid's hut, we enter the dense woods of the Hogwarts grounds, the Forbidden Forest. Normally, this area is strictly off limits to all students. Aragog the Acromantula (giant spider), centaurs, and Thestrals all live here, and the Forest is well-known to Hagrid. Two life-size centaurs, used as study models for the film, are represented here, as well as the Hungarian Horntail that Harry faces during the Tri-Wizard tournament. And as mentioned before, so is Aragog and a baby Thestral.
Setting 8: Dark Forces
Now we move on to the area that showcases the Dark Magic elements used by Lord Voldemort and his followers, the Death Eaters, to gain power in the Wizarding world. A collection of the darkest artifacts from the film series fill this environment, including a close-up look at the green robes of Lord Voldemort himself! Death Eater robes and masks from "The Goblet of Fire", the Angel of Death Statue, Lucius Malfoy and his son Draco, can all be found here. A selection of artifacts from "The Sorcerer's Stone" film are also here and include a giant pawn chess piece, one of the flying keys, a petrified Colin Creevy, the Horcrux Riddle Diary with the basilisk tooth stabbed into it, and the Sorcerer's stone itself. A life sized Dementor hovers above the costumes belonging to an Azkaban inmate, and also the Azkaban uniform worn by Bellatrix Lestrange herself. Wanted posters for the Carrows twins, Bellatrix, and Fenrir Greyback are all posted here for the student safety and to warn them of what may be lurking around any corner. The Black family House Elf, Kreacher, also lurks nearby and a Dark Mark can be found floating high overhead in the sky.
Setting 9: The Great Hall
The final setting brings us to Hogwarts Great Hall. Before you enter though, stop to take a look at the Bloody Baron's costume! And Umbridge's Educational Decrees are all displayed. As you pass through the massive doors, you enter the climax of the exhibition. Lit by candles that float above the room, The Great Hall serves as the main meeting area for students. This setting features props and artifacts from the magnificent Yule Ball, as well as costumes from notable characters such as Professor McGonagall, Sirius Black, the Weasley Twins, and Professor Dumbledore. Featured here are an ice sculpture, stools, Christmas crackers, place settings, platters, a table cloth and Yule Ball programs, invitations and tickets, all of which were props used in the films. It's here that we also find many of the delicious candies from Honey Dukes, items from Zonkos, and several products from Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes (seen in the recently released "Half-Blood Prince").
Many of the Yule Ball costumes are on display here, along with the Tri-wizard cup, and the casket used to transport the Goblet of Fire. Rita Skeeter makes an appearance and is represented by her quick quotes quill and many notebooks. Sirius Black's costume from Order of the Phoenix is on display here and the level of detail on it (especially the belt buckle) are amazing! Tonks' red reptilian skin jacket is supposed to be on display right next to it, but it was not present when I attended. I sent a note to Brian asking about this and will update you when I hear back from him.
In a corner of the area, we see many items from the Ministry of Magic, including the purple airplane memos, wizard study guides for students (aka cliff-notes) to prepare them for the O.W.L. exam (O.W.L.s.: How to Soar on Your OWLs!) The purple Interdepartmental Memos include an 'M' across the fold along the top and each one is sealed with a Ministry of Magic emblem. Percy Weasley's suit can be seen here, alongside the costume of Cornelius Fudge.
Costumes worn by Michael Gambon and Richard Harris as Dumbledore are on the main stage area, along with Minerva's costume from the Yule Ball. Fawkes is here on display, as is a naked and confused looking Dobby (this is a character study model used for "Chamber of Secrets"). Dobby is kind of hiding behind Dumbledore's robes though, so look carefully or you might miss him!
As you finally exit the Great Hall, you are again in a portrait gallery where many of them are applauding you. You've now reached the end of the exhibit. But just around the corner is the official exhibit shop, containing many items from NECA, Gentle Giant, the Noble Collection, etc. There are also several items which can only be purchased at the exhibition itself. My only complaint about the shop was that it was small and hard to maneuver around in, especially with the number of people all crowded inside.
I had an AMAZING time at the exhibit and it's definitely something that any Potter fan will want to see! Just looking at all the costumes and seeing how small some of the actors were when they started filming was really cute and it also gives you a real sense of how they've grown up along with their on-screen counterparts. There are so many artifacts and items in the exhibit that you could easily go through it multiple times and see things that you didn't notice before.
All of my photographs (along with some provided by the Museum, and from other sources), have been uploaded to the gallery.
Two videos showing glimpses of the exhibit can be watched courtesy of
NBC and USA Today.
Also, you can listen to a special podcast interview with the developer of "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" here
Kileycat posted a write up of her visit to the exhibit here on the forums.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity."