“Harry Potter: The Exhibition” Fan Report #1
One of our staff members 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.
It all starts at the beginning of Harry’s journey to Hogwarts with a projection show of key events and followed by 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 opens 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 wanted 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.
Next is the common room, where you can see Hermione, Neville, and Ginny’s robes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and 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 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a few Herbology textbooks, and his Mimbulus mimbletonia. After this, you will proceed toward different classroom sets.
The first is Potions, where Snape’s and Slughorn’s costumes are, in addition to various potion bottles, texts, cauldrons, jars of hair grease (just kidding), and their wands. Next are the tweed suits, the kitten plates, and a bubblegum-colored wall that denote the lodgings of Professor Umbridge. Most notable is the desk at which Harry sits to complete his detention in Order of the Phoenix, 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. 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 exhibition.
The next section of the exhibition concentrates on the Hogwarts grounds: Quidditch, Hagrid’s hut, and 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 Thestral, 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.
Around the corner and past another wall of portraits, the mood lifts as you enter the Great Hall. Dozens of candles float above my head, and great stone eagles flank the walls. There’s so much to see in this part. You can take your time exploring everything the hall has to offer (it’s a LOT). The music reaches a brilliant, conclusive note as you head through the door to the left of the head table in the Great Hall, and exit the exhibition 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. The gift shop offers an array of merchandise – some of which is unique to the exhibition. The moments of our favorite series brought to breathtaking life are something we will treasure, so this exhibition – if you can manage to make it – is well worth the visit.
Don’t forget to check out MuggleNet’s report on the exhibition by our own Eric Scull.