Harry Potter: The Exhibition – Cologne, Germany
by Denise Burkhard
From October 3, 2014, to March 1, 2015, Harry Potter: The Exhibition was hosted at the ODYSSEUM in Cologne, Germany. This was its second European stop and 12th stop overall.
Many fans are fervently looking forward to the opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Cologne, which opens its doors on October 3 and allows its visitors to plunge into the magical world of Harry Potter. But the fans will get their money’s worth: The exhibition not only displays the most important costumes and props of the movies but also is made with a lot of passion and love for details.
Matthew Lewis (who portrayed Neville Longbottom) visited the exhibition and took part in its opening ceremony. Although it’s been about four years since the last movie was released, Matthew is still filled with pride when he sees that Potter mania lives on.
And the exhibition is a vital part of this: Fans are able to see not only Harry’s and Ron’s beds in their dormitory, the kitten plates in Umbridge’s office, and the gloomy objects in Snape’s dungeons but also many more sets, which range from pleasant spaces in the series to more obscure ones. Ordered by the different sets of the movies, each of these is equipped with a range of special props from Leavesden Studios to evoke the feeling these sets used to create in the movies. Some of the items are more obviously connected to the films, while others, like Neville’s dancing shoes, are more indirectly present while watching. Nonetheless, these shoes caused Matthew to remember, “I can’t dance. I’m a terrible dancer,” although he managed to dance the tango in the end, which, to his sadness, never made it into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Apart from this, fans can have a look at Harry’s famous glasses, a replica of the Hungarian Horntail lurking in a transport box, and the masks of the Death Eaters, to name but a few of the large number of props.
However, before the actual exhibition starts, every witch and wizard (or those who would like to become one) has the chance to take a photo in front of a green screen to be transferred into various sets of the Potterverse. Then, the exhibition begins with a Sorting Ceremony in which a few volunteers are Sorted into the four Houses of Hogwarts, followed by a “screen show,” in which various moments of the movies are reinvigorated and the Hogwarts atmosphere is completed. The adventure begins with the steam of the Hogwarts Express and the terrible singing of the Fat Lady. In the course of the audio-guided tour, Muggles come across the picture of Gilderoy Lockhart and walk through Hagrid’s hut and may even have a seat in his gigantic armchair. Children can engage in activities, such as throwing a Quaffle through the three Quidditch goals or trying to draw out one of the squeaky mandrakes. But the most important set is yet to come: The Great Hall is filled with several costumes and animals, displays some of Fred and George Weasley’s sweets, and shows the decorations that were used for the Yule Ball – all with an amazing love for detail that makes the whole world appear even more real.
At the end, when the actual exhibition is finished, fans have the opportunity to buy Harry Potter merchandise in the shop, which ranges from cups to T-shirts, Pygmy Puffs, wands, and much more.
When I had the unique opportunity to walk through the exhibition, the first moments and impressions enhanced through the music and the atmosphere were so intense that I felt as if I had time traveled – back to the moment when I began to grow up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and when I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the very first time. In particular, the elaborate details, which only serve as the “background” in the movies, caught my full attention. Likewise, the costly handmade costumes and all other replicas made my visit to the exhibition a unique and special experience. Although only a part of what can be seen at Leavesden Studios is displayed, the selection of these items is very well chosen. They are completed by the audio guide, in which costume designers and many others explain how they created the marvelous items that are right in front of the viewer. For instance, no one might have expected how many problems the prop designers faced when they had to create a crystal ball that does not break when Hermione pushes it from the table in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
All in all, the exhibition is not only highly recommended for fans of Rowling’s Harry Potter series but also for all Muggles out there who would like to be drawn into the mysterious but wonderful world of Harry Potter. The view of the props and costumes is not only amazing but also breathtaking and connected with intense emotions and feelings the films created. I’m pretty sure that Harry Potter: The Exhibition will be a huge success – which serves it more than right!
Did you know that the Marauder’s Map has a misspelling but was nonetheless used throughout the series? If you would like to have a closer look at this curious prop, the exhibition waits in Cologne until the end of February 2015.