Charmed at Harry Potter: The Exhibition
The advent of a tangible Harry Potter world has always been in the air – after seven best-selling novels, 8 stellar films and even a theme park, it had to happen. Fans, Singaporean fans to be exact, have been granted the enthralling experience of a walk through Harry’s wizarding world. The film series, produced by David Heyman and distributed by Warner Brothers, had shaped most of the imaginings of what Harry’s world looked like to fans around the world. It was to me, surreal when I watched the first film in 2001 and saw the world of the novel materialise on the big screen. Of course I was elated that right now, 11 years later, I could tour Harry Potter: the exhibition, and see artifacts both directly from, and inspired by the film sets of the Harry Potter film series.
The first stop pre-exhibition is a photo spot where you can have your photo taken (with wands and scarves, of course) against a green screen. These cost $10 and can be printed at your liking later. Next up is a waiting room where a guide entertains the crowd with a short introduction, a sorting hat, and a faux British accent. Of course, there’s no other way to say “Harry Potter” other than with a crisp British accent.
Going in and expecting to see the usual costumes, wands, Harry’s glasses and some of the sets, I was wonderfully impressed by the meticulous attention to detail and the immense array of artifacts. There are 8 themed areas spanning the Gryffindor Common Room, Hogwarts classes, The Forbidden Forest, and The Great Hall. I was incredibly impressed that none of the characters and creatures were missed out. I saw all the wands, all the Horcruxes, the screaming golden egg, leather-bound textbooks and other tomes, Lockhart’s fanmail and narcissistic exam paper, the Boggart wardrobe, Prof. Umbridge’s kitten plates and “I must not tell lies” quill, Prof Trelawney’s Divination teacup with tea leaves intact… just to name a few. The main characters’ costumes from robes to casual clothes to Quidditch attire and Yule Ball formal wear were all present – a good way to gauge how the actors have grown, too. The specifics of each artifact meant that I could see things that I might have missed while watching the film. For instance, I didn’t know that Dementors had spiny tails under those cloaks… see for yourself!
Some of the interesting add-ons were the interactive vignettes – I got to pull out screaming Mandrake roots, throw Quaffles through hoops and sit on Hagrid’s chair. Our kind guide, Jon, let us know that the special smell in the Forbidden Forest area is a 4D effect to make us feel like we are really there.
What I found disappointing though, was the variety and quality of merchandise at the exhibition shop. The only things I found worth buying were the Marauder’s Map replica and maybe the Time-Turner, which was extremely expensive. Much of the rest of the merchandise were t-shirts, scarves, and funny looking Nimbus 2000 replicas.
Qualms aside, the exhibition is definitely worth a visit for fans of Harry Potter. Non-fans might even want to watch the films after seeing all the magic behind it! Ticket prices start at $13 for a child and $20 for an adult. Audio guides are available for rent for the non English-speaking. Head this way for more information: http://www.artsciencemuseum.com.sg/harrypotter/index.php
– Kelly Koo
*Pictures courtesy of © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc*
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