Harry Potter: The Exhibition – Sydney, Australia
by Jenna Pres
From November 19, 2011, to April 9, 2012: Harry Potter: The Exhibition was hosted at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia. This was its first Oceanian stop and sixth stop overall.
We met Eddie Newquist, Robin Stapley, James Phelps, and Oliver Phelps. Eddie and Robin revealed that the exhibition would be continuing after Sydney but did not reveal where. We also discovered that, with the support of Warner Bros., it took the organizers 40 days to transport 23 shipping containers of original props from Los Angeles down to Australia. They used the Great Hall in Leavesden Studios to go through all the props they chose.
James and Oliver revealed that some of the other Harry Potter cast and crew walked through the exhibition and felt like they were back on the set of the films. We discovered that most of the brooms used for Quidditch were the same, except Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Firebolt. Three different types of brooms were made: a hard one, a soft one, and a foam one depending on their use.
Did you know that, when you see the students doing Hogwarts work in the Great Hall, the actors were doing their schoolwork? We also found out that some of the sweets and food we see on set were originally real food for the actors to eat, but the food started to smell, or the hungry teenagers ate all of it! James broke three of the wands he used and was not even given a wand until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He did a perfect reenactment of sitting on his wand the first time.
James and Oliver had six weeks of auditioning, and at the first read-through, they still had no idea who was who! So they politely asked the casting director, “Who are we?” After the initial shock of two actors unaware of who they played, she went to executive producer David Heyman, director Chris Columbus, and J.K. Rowling. She came back after a chat and said, “Right, Oliver, you’re George; James, you’re Fred.” We also found out that James got so into his character during the rehearsal for Fred that he fell asleep. He thought he was having an out-of-body experience when he woke up to find everyone gone to lunch.
How has the exhibition changed since it first started in Chicago, Illinois, two years ago? All the Horcruxes have now been collected in one place, as well as the Deathly Hallows. However, the exhibition’s overall layout and content have not changed. Eddie and Robin escorted us into the exhibition following the interview, photographs, and a few autographs with the twins. But not before being Sorted into our Hogwarts Houses!
We saw posters and short video clips from all eight films and were greeted at the entrance by a woman with a lamp, a glimpse of the Hogwarts Express hidden behind a wall, and various moving portraits as soon as we stepped through. We saw the door to Gryffindor Tower and the original mold of the doorframe at the entrance to the Great Hall. On display are also a few schoolbooks, the four-poster beds, Ron’s and Harry’s trunks, Dolores Umbridge’s decrees, and an animatronic Buckbeak. The hippogriff has many wires and pipes within its body, ready to move as it did on set for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The phoenix in the exhibition is also the original animatronic Fawkes used on set.
There are costumes and props from the subjects offered at Hogwarts, such as Potions, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. We saw the many portraits of Gilderoy Lockhart, including a massive one of Gilderoy drawing a painting of himself.
There is a fair share of interactive props: We could pull out a mandrake as the students did in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and attempt to throw a Quaffle through one of the three hoops before us. We could sit in Hagrid’s chair while admiring the inside of his hut. We saw some giant chess pieces, the statue to which Harry was bound in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and an Acromantula from Chamber of Secrets.
There are new costumes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2, including that lovely red dress Hermione wore to Bill and Fleur’s wedding, as well as Ron’s, Harry’s, Luna’s, and Xenophilius’s outfits. The creators put Godric Gryffindor’s sword right next to the sweater Neville Longbottom wore when he killed Nagini since they “felt it was appropriate.” We took photographs of various Death Eater costumes and their wands. Another fascinating find was a Quidditch board game on display, made in incredible detail but eventually not used in the films.
Harry Potter gave us some incredible magic within our lives, uniting us in our love for the series at events like this one.