Harry Potter’s World Is at the Museum of Science
A very cool exhibition, but is it worth $26?
Drop everything Muggle-related. Harry Potter: The Exhibition, a colossal showcase of more than 200 sets, costumes, and props from the Harry Potter films, is open at the Museum of Science. There’s Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest, and the Quidditch field, the magical world before your eyes without charging through the wall of Platform 9¾.
But there is a deterrent: a $26 ticket price. And no student discount.
Is it worth it? For true Harry Potter fans, faced with choosing this show or dinner out, here’s my prediction: lots of Ramen noodles in the near future.
It took a team from Warner Brothers, which produced the movies, and the marketing agency Exhibitgroup/Giltspur nearly three years to create the exhibition, says Eddie Newquist, the agency’s president of branded entertainment. The Museum of Science is only the second U.S. museum to host the exhibition.
The 16,000-square-foot exhibition was transported to Boston in 16 semis, and the MOS pushed for a three-week installation instead of the usual five weeks so it would be open for Halloween. The museum had to blow out a ceiling to fit the giant window in the Great Hall scene, according to Newquist.
“I think every museum was hoping there’d be an exhibition from the Harry Potter movies,” he says. “But the films have been in production for almost 10 years, so the props and sets have always been in use.”
Matthew Lewis, who portrays Neville Longbottom in the films, visited the week the exhibition opened. He says it was the first time he had seen some of the props and costumes, such as ones in the Forbidden Forest, because he didn’t appear in those scenes. “Hopefully people will get to experience a little of what we did when we were 11 and began the series,” he says.
Before entering the sprawling exhibition, a volunteer is picked to have his or her school fate decided by the Sorting Hat. It’s supposed to be for kids, but if you wave your hands enough, maybe you’ll be picked.
After watching a short video montage from the films, a life-size replica of the Hogwarts Express appears. It’s not necessary to jump on board to enter the world of Hogwarts — before you is the Portrait Gallery, with talking paintings and the shrieking Fat Lady. The gallery leads to the Gryffindor Common Room, with Harry’s and Ron’s beds, Harry’s wand and glasses, and the Marauder’s Map. The howler that Mrs. Weasley sends Ron is displayed, and an optional $5 audio tour explains how a prop intern, trained in origami, designed the Howler.
Next come the classrooms, from Professor Snape’s dungeon potions to the Herbology greenhouse. Among numerous “Don’t touch” signs are a few hands-on parts, such as the chance to yank a shrieking Mandrake. I grimaced at the sight of Professor Umbridge’s office — decked out entirely in pink — and Harry’s list of “I will not tell lies” written repeatedly in his own blood.
From there it’s on to the Quidditch field, with Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Cedric Diggory’s Quidditch robes (ladies, Robert Pattinson once wore them!), and Hagrid’s Hut, where you can see how he lives larger than life.
My favorite, the Forbidden Forest, appears once you step out of Hagrid’s Hut. With life-size centaurs, billowing smoke, and Death Eaters, it has a different feel from the rest of the exhibition.
Once you emerge from the forest, you’re in the Great Hall, decked out for the Yule Ball. Sadly, this ends the exhibition — but there’s always the gift shop to look forward to.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition celebrates an attention to detail in every prop that can’t be fully appreciated as the films unfold on the screen — the sign-up list for Dumbledore’s Army, Hagrid’s course book, The Monster Book of Monsters, a life-size Buckbeak (each feather individually cut and painted), a creepy Dementor hanging from the ceiling with its spine exposed.
A few gripes: it would have been interesting to see one of J. K. Rowling’s original manuscripts, or at least a copy of an actual Harry Potter book somewhere other than the gift shop. Cameras aren’t allowed, which is a tad ridiculous. The only photo opportunities are outside the exhibition: the Weasleys’ blue Flying Ford Anglia, which Harry and Ron crashed into the Whomping Willow, and a giant knight from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
As for the entry fee, one consolation: the price includes general admission to the museum, which you can use right away or anytime over the next six months. So after a Harry Potter fix, you can go see how static electricity works.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition is at the Museum of Science through February 21, 2010. Admission is by timed entry, and some dates are already sold out, so reservations are essential. Tickets are $26 for adults, $24 for seniors, $23 for children, and can be purchased here. To get to the Museum of Science, take the Green Line to Science Park.
Amy Laskowski can be reached at email@example.com Comments