Harry Potter: The Exhibition – Chicago, USA

Hosted at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois, USA, this was the first stop of the Exhibition tour, running from April 30, 2009, through September 27, 2009.

Press Report - Eric Scull

Today was the day that the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL previewed Harry Potter: The Exhibition to several representatives from the various Harry Potter fansites. Myself, on behalf of MuggleNet.com, was thrilled to attend.

The exhibition opens publicly tomorrow and will be in Chicago until September 27. Its next journey is, at this time, unknown however its creators (in a roundtable discussion held immediately following our preview) have assured us that it will be traveling overseas.

My immediate impression upon entering the museum was that it was the perfect place for this sort of thing. The displays I walked past on my way to check in were beautiful and spacious, and careful planning was immediately apparent. I quickly found Jeff Guillame of HPANA and Edward Drogos from The Leaky Cauldron waiting patiently at the table. It is always good to see familiar faces at these events and, even better, I was among good friends. After a few minutes, the rest of our group had arrived and we were led onwards through the Brain Food Court – past the Big Idea Store – and up the escalators where our tour began. The exhibit is housed in a special section of the museum specifically built to accommodate the needs and desires of Exhibitgroup/Giltspur, the marketing agency who created this. We were taken outside where the line begins and led around to a special set of doors. Once we entered through them, it wasn’t hard to forget where I was… “Allo there! Come on, come in all of you, and welcome!” We’re ushered in by an enthusiastic chap who leads us to the first section of the exhibit: the Sorting Hat. “Well, then, do we have any volunteers?” There was a child among us, but he quickly withdrew his hand, citing a bad experience with a Sorting Hat elsewhere which had put him in Slytherin. I stepped forward and became a Gryffindor, and Tony from DanRadcliffe.com became a Ravenclaw (after pleading rather Harry-like “not Slytherin, not Slytherin!”) The voice that by now is so familiar sounded better than ever in our enclosed room. Then it was time to proceed.

Through the doors on the wall opposite were eight video screens, rectangular and hung vertically like portraits (with frames around them). It was here that we relived a short series of memorable moments from our favorite Harry Potter films, arranged in such a way so as to prepare us for what lie ahead. The true entrance to the exhibit opens, as if by magic, at the conclusion of the short video. If the sound and lighting weren’t enough to take you in already, staring you down is the Hogwarts Express… exhibition_dormitoryThe artifacts to be found beyond this entry-point are many, and rather than try to give an exact blow-by-blow or inventory (as can be found in other reports), I will from this point highlight my own personal favorites. The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle comic strip: We read about it in Chamber of Secrets, and here is an issue sitting next to some of Ron and Harry’s school possessions. In this edition, Martin tries to learn French. This comic strip was one of the various props produced to appear in the background of shots in the movies. Yet I haven’t seen it, there is no attention paid to it by the narrative of the films, and it is one of the many wonderful things created by J.K. Rowling which I, as a reader, would just love to have realized. Here it is for the whole world to see! A handbook of Do-It-Yourself Broomcare, straight out of the books, rests next to a list of members of Dumbledore’s Army. Nearby is Ron’s Howler in both its closed and opened form. Pumpkin juice (with a pumpkin on the lid!) and Harry’s acceptance letter are all some of the first items on display.

The attention to detail in any one of these props is extravagant. I notice for the first time engravings of a castle on the Golden Egg from the First Triwizard Task. A potions display features what can only be described as “stuff in jars” next to the very intricate costume of Professor Slughorn in the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film. There is a box labeled bezoars, with bezoars inside, and two editions of Advanced Potion Making by Liberatius [sic] Borage. Very cool.

Across the way is a Divination display. What’s that in the teacup? Oh no, it’s the Grim!! Perhaps my favorite display in the exhibit is the one on Professor Lockhart. If not for this exhibit, the many poses actor Kenneth Branagh took for his character’s various eccentricities would be lost. It is nothing short of hilarious to see him in his various poses for both book covers and signed photographs. The portrait from his DADA classroom, featuring Lockhart painting a portrait of Lockhart, is the backdrop for these. In the glass case also rests a completely developed Defense Against the Dark Arts Second Year Essential Knowledge Test. Yes, this is the 27-odd question exam featuring the questions on good ol’ Gilderoy himself – only viewable in a deleted scene from the second film otherwise, and certainly requiring a closer look.

Across the way is a display of Professor Umbridge’s office. I had heard tell from friends who had visited the fifth movie set about the painstaking detail taken in producing the kitty-cat plates now seen here. It is one thing to see them on the screen and quite something different to have them right in front of you. I was not tempted to eat off of them; however, I think I know a few people who would.mandrakepulling

Next were the hands-on features of the exhibit which are worth, in and of themselves, a standing ovation. First is the Mandrake table, where all you have to do is pull on the plants and, before you know it, there’s a Mandrake beneath it screeching at you. I never thought I would experience anything more fun than Whac-a-Mole but I must assure you, reader, that I was wrong. Through the Quidditch tent entrance ahead hang uniforms worn by Ireland and Bulgaria, Cedric Diggory, Harry, and even Ron from Half-Blood Prince. The hands-on display in this area is the Quaffle Toss, in my opinion a complete triumph. Fans who’ve seen the movies should have a pretty clear picture of the red leathery ball known as the Quaffle and will know that it is oddly shaped. Until now, only the actors and set-people will have actually held one. Not only do visitors get to hold one, but quite like an arcade-style game, there are goal posts set up. Passing a Quaffle through these hoops sets off the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch bell. The ring of success will never quite be so good to hear in the films, for now I have triggered it with my bare hands. I foresee museum officials needing to move people forward from this game after their first hour of non-stop playing.

Inside Hagrid’s Hut, the costume which is impossibly large hangs welcomingly. A sign next to Hagrid’s chair reads “Please sit,” so we do. It’s huge. Across the way by the fireplace is the table, upon which an egg, slightly cracked, begins to wiggle. The magic, all of it, is alive in this exhibit. It’s real, tangible, and right there waiting to be witnessed.

There are 25 costumes throughout this exhibit, and some belonged to Harry, Ron, or Hermione in their early years. Even Draco Malfoy’s Quidditch robes from Chamber of Secrets are here, and boy – are they small! At one point, such costumes were worn by real-life eleven[-] and twelve[-]year[-]olds. To put it another way and then move on, seeing them on the screen does not make it clear just how teeny!!!! our favorite trio was.

Moving on I see it’s getting darker outside… or rather, inside, and soon I find myself in the Forbidden Forest. There are Centaurs, yes, among other things. Tom Riddle’s school uniform worn by Christian Coulson in Chamber of Secrets is here, as well as his diary complete with basilisk fang. As far as I can tell, this is the only Horcrux on display so far. There is a Portkey, though… it’s the Triwizard Cup! Two chess pieces from Sorcerer’s Stone are present. The rook has got to be eight feet tall. A Dementor hangs suspended, many wanted posters from Movie 6 of Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Bellatrix Lestrange, and others hang warningly. The Angel of Death graveyard statue is present, and up in the sky I see that the Dark Mark has been cast. I want to get out of the darkness sooner rather than later, so I do.

I find my way past an ornate, aged torch pillar and breathe a sigh of relief as I realize that I am now about to enter the Great Hall. Educational Decrees hang from the wall – each one unique and imposing. Before I enter, I notice a costume in the corner. It is the Bloody Baron’s. This is, in my opinion, the must-see costume of the exhibit, for how excellent (and ruffled!) it is and how little we could possibly make of it from its appearance in the movie. kreacher_exhibitThe Great Hall is the final area of the exhibit featuring plenty of candies and foods and deserts, some of Dumbledore’s costumes and yes, as reported elsewhere, a naked Dobby looking rather confused. I would like to clear up that, on the exhibit’s own list of must-see artifacts, Dobby is listed as a study model used for the second film. Thus, he must be this way so that the graphic artists could properly render him. A Cornish pixie exists earlier in the exhibit much in the same way. On the far corner of the Great Hall is a section devoted to the Yule Ball. Hermione’s gown and Ron’s dress robes are unbelievable up close. It isn’t clear in the films just how many flowers appear on Ron’s robes… There are too many.

Our last stop is the gift shop. It feels just as exciting being in here. Snow globes, busts, action figures, the books, the movies, Hogwarts buttons and pins and key-chains are all available here in one place. According to officially released material, nearly 6,000lbs of rigging, lighting, speakers, cables, and special effects were used to create the exhibition and it is certainly not hard to see how. From start to finish, the places we feel we know are ours to explore. The attention to detail paid by every artist on the props and costumes absolutely glistens in this intimate environment where they seem to live and breathe on their own.

At the roundtable discussion, I am only able to compliment the makers on a job well done. The exhibition is the product of 2-3 years conceptual and visualization work and there was much collaboration between the exhibit makers and the filmmakers. David Heyman and David Yates also provide their stories on certain props for the audio tour of the exhibit, something I will definitely return and try.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition is not only a must-see for every Harry Potter fan. I would go so far as to call it a Harry Potter fan’s Mecca, for inside it is housed all of the elements of what make J.K. Rowling’s world so magical and a reminder of how that world can so easily exist within our own.

Press Report - Selena

When you first walk into the museum, the Flying Ford Anglia is sitting in the main lobby. You can take pictures of it and stand next to the huge “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” sign. Then you head upstairs to where the exhibit is located. You can buy an audio component that has an introduction by David Heyman, and then throughout the exhibit you can listen to the stories behind the artifacts. Then you enter (I think they said that they were letting groups in every 7 1/2 minutes). You walk through a tunnel and then go into a room and some people get to try on the Sorting Hat and get sorted. The man who holds the hat asks you which house is your favorite, and then you end up getting sorted into that house (we couldn’t figure out how he did that… but we got sorted into Gryffindor). Then two big, wooden doors open and you move into a room and watch some clips from the movies. After those are finished, you head into a room where the Hogwarts Express is. The effects in that room are really nice, the lights are almost completely off, except for the light on the train, and there is smoke floating around in the room. Then you are headed into the first room of the exhibit: the common rooms. You get to see the beds that they use in the films, the robes that the kids wear, the trunks that they bring to school, their wands, and the school books. Some of my favorites were: the Marauder’s Map, Harry’s glasses, the parchment where all the members of the DA signed, the “I must not tell lies” parchment, and the Gryffindor common room notice board. After the common room, you walk into a makeshift Hagrid’s hut where you see some props from his hut, including the dragon’s egg from Sorcerer’s Stone, and all the different animal cages that he has. You are also allowed to sit in his huge chair, the one that the trio sat in during the first film. Then you move into the different classes at Hogwarts, Potions, DADA, Herbology, and Divination. You get to see the different cauldrons used in the Potions classrooms, as well as Professor Slughorn’s costume and wand from the upcoming movie. You can also see the crystal balls, Professor Lockhart’s fanmail and costume, and there is even a section devoted to Umbridge. There was a part when they allowed you to pull on the Mandrakes and they would scream.

I loved seeing copies of the actual OWLs that the students took during the films; the questions that they asked were something along the lines of “What is the charm that turns someone’s bogies into bats that attack them?”. Here you could also see many magical creatures like Buckbeak and Fawkes. You then moved to a room that was devoted to Quidditch. You got to see Harry’s Quidditch costumes from all the movies so far (including HBP), as well as Ron’s, Draco’s Cedric’s, Oliver Wood’s, and Madam Hooch’s. You also got to play a game where you could throw Quaffles (I think they were real ones from the movies, but I don’t know) into the scoring hoops. We were then moved into the dark magic section. Here we saw the costumes of the Death Eaters, Dementors, the Malfoys, the Azkaban prisoners, and of course, Voldemort. This room was really scary looking, dimly lit, and there was scary music playing. Then we went into a room that had a bunch of things like the Goblet of Fire and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Finally, we went into the “Great Hall.” On the wall right before we entered, all of the educational decrees were hanging, and we also got to see the costume of the Bloody Baron.

When you moved into the Great Hall, you got to see the food used during the feasts, some candy from Honeydukes, and other props used in the Great Hall. There was also a section devoted to the Yule Ball, where you could find the dress robes that the guys wore, and the dresses that the girls wore. There was a few of Dumbledore’s costumes (including one the Richard Harris wore) and also the Triwizard Cup. You were then exited into, of course, the gift shop. There are so many more things that were in the exhibit and they were all amazing. I would say that this was a must-see for any Harry Potter fan. It was so well put together, from the employees that had British accents, to the soundtrack playing in the background. There was a sense of authenticity because there were still stains on the costumes and dirt on the shoes, so that you were absolutely sure that they were real. In the gift shop, you could buy everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (yes, every single flavor; most of mine were absolutely disgusting) to Harry’s wand, to the movie posters. I absolutely loved it and I would highly recommend it to anyone, not just Harry Potter fans.

Press Report - Heather Putman

I was lucky enough to receive tickets to a special members-only preview of Harry Potter: The Exhibition this Sunday, before it opens to the public. After a long walk through a winding, white tent, a “wizard” named John ushers all the visitors into a darkened hall with a jovial British accent, “Come on, come on! All o’ yeh get in thar! Nice an’ tight now!” He presents us with a stool on which is placed the Sorting Hat, beneath an elaborate stained-glass window archway. After requesting some volunteers to be sorted into their favorite house (sadly, he passed over the adult hands in the crowd) and the voice of the Sorting Hat booms “Ravenclaw!” or “Gryffindor!” the wizard leads us through the tall wooden doors into a pitch-black room. Suddenly, five screens, each framed like a portrait, light the room with highlights from the films.

We see the beginning of Harry’s journey to Hogwarts, key events, and finally the whooshing of train compartment windows as they flash through the screens. The music mounts, and “Hedwig’s Theme” is in perfect, dramatic timing as a pair of wide oak doors open to our side and a single light gleams through a mist of steam and the screech of an engine – the Hogwarts Express. “Quickly now, quickly!” shouts a cloaked witch holding a dusty lantern. We pass by a life-size Hogwarts Express as we walk across the Hogsmeade platform, where the air is foggy and the trees surrounding us rustle with the cry of the engine. Beside the witch looms a large tree with a “Have You Seen This Wizard?” poster of Sirius Black tacked to it. Rounding the corner, a group of portraits used as part of the set on the films greets you – literally, greets you. Some sigh and smile, while others partake in whatever activity they’re painted doing (my favorite was the portrait of lovers on a swing in a cemetery), and some are as silent as ones in the Muggle world. The Fat Lady tries to impress you with her vocal talents as you pass through her archway into the Gryffindor [c]ommon [r]oom. The dorms are depicted on one side, the [c]ommon [r]oom on the other.

In the [c]ommon [r]oom you can see Hermione, Neville, and Ginny’s robes from Order of the Phoenix, as well as memorable character props. Beside Hermione’s robes are, in a glass case, her Time-Turner, several school books, and her wand. Neville’s trinkets include his dancing shoes from Goblet of Fire, a few Herbology textbooks, and his Mimbulus Mimbletonia. Also in this case is (to my complete and utter joy) the DA list of members – each of the signatures unique. Behind them is a tapestry used in the [c]ommon [r]oom in many scenes – the dull rouge-colored one with medieval figures and fleur-de-lis emblazoned on its cloth. Ginny’s robes are here as well, her cardigan and longer skirt mark the distinction from Hermione’s. Across from the [c]ommon [r]oom motif is Harry and Ron’s dormitory set. Both of their beds are here, as well as their trunks and several costumes. Each bed is clothed differently – Harry’s, in a plain red wool blanket, and Ron’s in a Mrs. Weasley-knit throw. Ron’s hat from Prisoner of Azkaban is here (also to my delight – it always makes me laugh!) and so is one of his “R” sweaters from Goblet of Fire. Before his bed lies his open trunk, which contains his broken wand mended with Spell-o-Tape from Chamber of Secrets, his Chudley Cannons gear – including an autographed T-shirt by the team – the text, Quidditch Teams of Ireland and Britain, and – most delightfully – his Howler, both the envelope and the torn letter from Mrs. Weasley. Between his and Harry’s beds stand their robes. The terrific thing about how these are displayed is that they reflect the attitudes of their characters – they are not all prim and ironed on the mannequins, but portrayed as how the character would wear them. Ron’s are disheveled with a helpless tie hanging around the shoulders, while Harry’s are more put-together, but crinkled around the neck. Harry’s trunk is perhaps the main event of this set of the exhibit. Inside are his letter of acceptance to Hogwarts – such an icon, it’s surreal to see it physically before you – his glasses, the Marauder’s Map, his wand from Sorcerer’s Stone, and the box of chocolate cauldrons that Romilda Vane gives him in Half-Blood Prince. When I ask one of the wizards, “Where’s his Invisibility Cloak?” the gent smiles and asks me, “Don’t you see it?” This ends the dormitory scenes as we progress toward different classroom sets.

The first is Potions, where Snape and Slughorn’s costumes are, in addition to various potion bottles, texts, cauldrons, jars of hair grease (just kidding), and their wands. My mother made the remark, “Whose robes are those? I like the high black collar. Those are sexy.” I about lost it, and was barely able to mutter through my giggling, “Those are Snape’s.” Just as we turn, the exhibit is infected with a vicious case of pink-eye. Tweed suits, kitten plates, and a bubblegum-colored wall denote the lodgings of Professor Umbridge. Most notable is the desk at which Harry sits to complete his detention in OotP, on which sits that evil quill and the scroll with bloodied ink repeatedly stating, “I must not tell lies.”

Across from Umbridge’s eyesore of a set is Defense Against the Dark Arts, displaying the costumes and props of Professors Lockhart and Lupin. Lockhart’s is incredibly detailed – all his lavender stationary, teacher’s edition quizzes, photos that Harry helps to autograph as part of his detention, and his complete works are here. Beside his glorious Dueling Club robes and his golden, teaching robes is the enormous self-portrait and one of the pesky blue Cornish Pixies. Lupin’s is diminutive in grandeur by comparison, but his tattered robes are here beside his collection of “wizard waltz” records and the Boggart closet, which rattles and makes a racket. There is also the jack-in-a-box that one of the Patil twins transforms from her Boggart as a vicious viper. Seeing it in the movie was one thing; after seeing it in real life, given the choice, I think I’d take on the snake. Professor Trelawney occupies the space near Umbridge’s office. The bulbous-eyed glasses and crystal ball – as well as the teacup with the Grimm in its tea leaves! – are on the table beside Trelawney’s magnificent robes of green silk and beading.

Next is Herbology – which you can sense as you hear the Mandrakes cry from across the exhibition hall. This is one of the many interactive parts of the exhibit. While touching the artifacts is strictly prohibited, they do include some things to occupy your itchy hands. The Mandrakes are fun to pull and hear squeal until you shove them back in the dirt. Almost lovingly beside them stands Professor’s Sprout’s attire from CoS, as well as her gardening tools.

The next section of the exhibit concentrates on the Hogwarts Grounds – Quidditch, Hagrid’s Hut, and the Forbidden Forest. Quidditch steals my attention in this part. Displayed is the full set of balls that Oliver Wood shows Harry in SS, on top of which are crossed Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Draco Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001 – the latter of which is very sleek, I might add. Next to these is another interactive portion, where we can throw Quaffles through the three golden hoops. I decide to try my hand at it, and a five-year-old’s diverts mine to make his goal instead. There’s a reason I wasn’t picked for my house team. Before moving on to the vast remainder of Quidditch artifacts, I look behind me at Hagrid’s Hut and garden, where Buckbeak stands. His patient expression amidst the pumpkins is not characteristic of his feisty demeanor, but he still seems the gentle giant beside Harry, Ron and Hermione’s clothing worn during the execution scene in PoA. They’re dirty and worn to perfection, and I noticed I have the same rainbow belt and pink hoodie as Emma Watson did in this film. Looming behind them is a freakish pumpkin-headed scarecrow, and beside that is the costume worn by Macnair, the executioner. Hagrid’s Hut is right beside this, as it should be, boasting a spacious living quarters for non-giants to tour. His costume stands on a mannequin that made my mom jump with fright – it’s about eight feet tall and just as wide. One of the helpful wizards explained to us that, most of the time, Hagrid actor Robbie Coltrane’s stand-in wore this costume, as Robbie had to bulk up with twice as much material to suit Hagrid’s shape. Apparently, the stand-in could really be considered a half-giant! They used him for scenes when they shot his back, and from far away. Across from this formidable presence is Hagrid’s chair, which the kids sit in during CoS. We are welcome to take a breather as well, though getting up and out of this monstrous chair seems more effort than it’s worth! My 6’2″ brother feels – and looks! – so tiny in it! Hagrid’s table and fireplace alone are enough to dwarf us all. The fire is crackling and toasty, while on the table quivers Norbert’s un-hatched egg. Hagrid’s pink umbrella is preserved in a case across from it.

Doubling back to see the remaining Quidditch sets, I am stunned to see the sheer quantity of costumes they salvaged! The attire of Madame Hooch, the Irish National Team, Harry at tryouts in HBP, Viktor Krum, and Ron as keeper in HBP are all staggered in the fan stands. The detail is exquisite. Though you only see them in a flash during the flying sequences, the designers put quite a bit of effort into making them pristine, realistic, and gorgeous. Beside[s] these… is what I quickly deem the arena of hotness. The Quidditch robes of the objects of fan-girls’ love dominate this end of the exhibit hall. Oliver Wood, Cedric Diggory, and Draco Malfoy’s robes are polished and pristinely displayed beneath boards from the trophy room that list each house’s Quidditch captains. The curators were certainly thinking when the placed “PLEASE, DO NOT TOUCH” signs every three inches in front of the costumes that these eligible men wore.

Across from this eye-catching display are the exit of Hagrid’s Hut, and the set of the Forbidden Forest. A whiff of dampness, or mold, catches in my nostrils as I view the life-size models of Bane and the other centaurs, a baby [T]hestral, and the Horntail’s Head amid patches of real moss and dark trees. It sets the mood perfectly. Once I exit the grounds, the dark arts are revealed through some of the most fascinating and detailed artifacts from the films. Quirrell’s robes and turban stand beside Harry’s red sweater and corduroys from SS, and beside them, the Sorcerer’s Stone, flaming-red and scarred, is skewered by a golden rod inside a glass case. Across from this is a display of the Death Eater’s robes from Goblet of Fire. Since the Klu Klux Klan-inspired look was retired when David Yates became director, these costumes have found a home in the exhibition hall. I really wanted to see the detailed masks revealed in OotP, but they seem to be still in use for Deathly Hallows filming. Several of the most striking dark objects appear before me. Looming above the visitors is the “Angel of Death,” the statue Wormtail uses to restrain Harry when the Triwizard Cup transports him to the graveyard. It’s only slightly intimidating – I just hope that scythe is attached firmly. Beside this is, fittingly, Voldemort’s robes Ralph Fiennes dons in this same scene. They are billowy and almost green up-close. His claw-base wand lies faithfully beside it. As I turn, a Dementor howls – right in my face. I jump back to see one of the figures used for filming PoA, and it’s no less frightening in real life as it is, computer-generated, in the film. My mood improves as I step beyond this – the Malfoys’ robes are next. Draco’s Slytherin uniform from SS – so wittle! – stands beside Lucius Malfoy’s costume from when he attends the Quidditch match in CoS. His hat, I’m pleased to see, has made it, and I resist the urge to rub it. I’m even more excited when I see his infamous cane. I fondly refer to it as the “pimp cane,” some call it “snakey,” but everyone recognizes it as uniquely his. I giggle a bit as I notice the snake’s fangs are a little rusty. Beyond this are wanted posters for each of the primary death eaters in HBP. Bellatrix’s and Fenrir Greyback’s catch my eye. I’m disappointed to later find that they don’t sell copies of these in the gift shop – they’re stellar props. A bit further stands two Azkaban uniforms, a traditional male’s as well as Bellatrix’s striped dress as shown in the mass-breakout scene in OotP. Between them stands a faithful Kreacher. Throughout this segment of the exhibit, the darkest part of the score and storm sound and visual effects set a perfect ambiance to gaze at the intriguing, darker side of Harry’s world. It’s flawlessly constructed, and intimidates even a twenty-year-old who thought she had become desensitized to the frightening images and sets of the films – not so. I am scared out of my wits and I love every minute of it.

Around the corner and past another wall of potraits, the mood lifts. I enter the Great Hall! The costume and portrait of the Bloody Baron greet me as I step into the cathedral-like setting of perhaps the most famous of all Harry Potter sets. Dozens of candles float above my head, and great stone eagles flank the walls. There’s so much to see in this part! So, I summon strength to not take it all in at once, and settle on the first corner of the exhibit. The Triwizard champions’ robes are first: Cedric’s Hufflepuff robes, Viktor Krum’s fur cape, and Fleur Delacour’s absolutely stunning blue ensemble. I want her matching shoes. Behind them stands the seven-foot Triwizard Cup’s casket. The next portion depicts the Yule Ball in all its splendor. Various costumes circle a table laden with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and stand before a background of icicles and light blue crystal. Krum’s red suit and Hermione’s magenta silk gown demand attention first. The detail is gorgeous, and the jewelry and all the accessories are included in the display as well. Next is Ron’s – well, you can hardly call it “Yule Ball attire”; it’s certainly a costume! And it looks even more hideous in real life than it does in the film. As a fan of fashion, I think I’ve found my Boggart. Harry’s robes look debonair and stately, as do Cedric Diggory’s, which stand beside Harry’s. Cho’s champagne silk gown is exquisite. The detail in the silk beading and threading is breathtaking! Next to this display are the frosted-glass Triwizard Cup as well as Rita Skeeter’s notebooks and emerald green Quick Quotes Quill. Before I hit up the Head Table, I double back to see what’s along the other wall – candy! Hogsmeade treats, in packaging and in colored shopping bags, litter the floors of several displays – seems they simply picked up the floor of the Gryffindor [c]ommon [r]oom. Exploding Snap packs and Quidditch board games are among the rows and rows of sweets. The main event in this line of goodies is Fred and George’s Skiving Snackboxes, the set of which opens like a glorious pyramid of class-ditching saviors. The Fever Fudge, Puking Pastilles, and Fainting Fancies are all brightly colored but compact enough to sneak into class undetected. Best of all, a large “W” label adorns the box. The school robes of Fred and George stand idly by this tome of deliciousness; like all the robes, these are tailored to the character. Fred’s looks pretty well put-together, while George’s are more relaxed and undone. The Head Table. Finally. Fawkes looms in a case overlooking the Sorting Hat, his sympathetic eyes as heart-wrenching as they were in the film. The table beside him boasts the looks of Professor McGonagall – her Yule Ball gown and fabulous feathered hat – and Professor Dumbledore – his Yule Ball robes and his Welcoming Feast robes – and equally wicked hat – from PoA. So, wondering where Dobby is? I was too, after I saw Kreacher had his place beside his mistress, Bellatrix. Dobby is hiding, and for good reason… Because he’s naked. Horrifyingly naked. Yes, my friends. Cowering behind Dumbledore, Dobby stands in all his glorious elfish wonder, with more detail than five-year-olds, twenty-year-olds, or anyone for that matter should have to witness. Not only does he not have his enslaving burlap sack, he has no clothes at all! Is this a symbol? Some sort of sick prank by the curators? I do not know, but the image still haunts me as I write this. Be warned, future visitors. Be warned. So, um, next to Dumbledore and (naked!) Dobby are Sirius Black’s robes from OotP, and next to those is Tonks’ red reptilian skin jacket. The detail, like everything else in this exhibit, is extraordinary. The music reaches a brilliant, conclusive note as I head through the door to the left of the Head Table, and exit the exhibit to the images and sounds of applauding portraits. Don’t be alarmed! You’ll still be high on Potter as you enter the gift shop, constructed in the form of Diagon Alley. They offer an array of merchandise – some of which is unique only to the exhibit – and were persuasive enough to make me spend the equivalent of two paychecks. It’s no matter, though, because this is something I will tell my children about one day, when they read Harry Potter. The moments of my favorite series brought to breathtaking life is something I will treasure, so this exhibit – if you can manage to make it – is well worth the visit.

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