Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Harry Potter at the Museum!

Yesterday I went to Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I had heard about this exhibit months ago during my re-dork-ulous Potter obsession phase. All the HP fan sites knew there would be an exhibition, but it wasn’t known which cities would host it. I was super excited that Chicago ended up being the first. The exhibit doesn’t officially open until April 30, but members to the museum could take advantage of the preview days. Therefore, I became a member. Not only did I get to see the exhibit before anyone else did, but because it was a member preview, there were way fewer people at the exhibit than there would be during normal hours (I know this from previous museum member previews).

Sadly, photography was not allowed in the exhibit (why not? Did they think I’d take pictures of official things and then try to recreate them? I don’t get it. Was it always this way in museums?), so I can’t show you all of the funny, cool things there. But here is the lowdown.

The exhibit begins with a crowd gathered around a museum worker dressed in robes. There is a stool next to her, so, of course, it’s time for the sorting ceremony. She called up a child, asked her what house she wanted to be in, then held the sorting hat over her head (I’m assuming not ON her head due to lice issues). A recording of the sorting hat voice played, and of course the girl was a Gryffindor. Then a little boy went up. He also wanted to be a Gryffindor. Same recording. Then a twenty-something guy went up, and he also wanted to be a Gryffindor. Slytherin! That was kind of funny, and the best part was how everyone applauded each time someone’s house was chosen. It could have been better. I think they should have somehow sorted everyone, perhaps when you order tickets, or you get to take a survey, or something. And then everyone gets a sticker of the house crest, so while you walk around the exhibit, you can see other people from your house and smile or perform a secret handshake.

The rest of the exhibit was packed (and it really was packed) with items from many of the films. There were Ron and Harry’s beds, complete with crazy Weasley bedspread, loads of costumes (including Ron’s hideous dress robes!), and artifacts galore. One of the coolest was the tri-wizard cup. Truly, there were so many things there that it would take hours (well, lots of minutes) to describe them all. If you have questions about specifics, I’d be happy to answer. All in all, I was very happy, if not blown away, by the exhibit. I’m pretty sure I’ll go back. It’s there through September, and I’m a member now, so why not? Romy liked it, too. She didn’t sleep the entire time, and she really looked at everything. I wonder what she liked best.

The gift shop was another piece that I should mention. It felt like a dark, Potterverse store. There were many items of weirdness, like expensive busts and snow globes, wands, stuffed animals, and hideous museum t-shirts. I wanted to buy a pair of Luna Lovegood radish earrings, but they were part of a set for $60! Instead, I plan to order a similar pair off of Etsy. I kind of wish I bought the tiny sorting hat they were selling. Why, I don’t know. I keep picturing Tobin wearing it. I ended up buying a tiny bust of Ron Weasley that actually looks more like Fred or George, but it was only $6.00. I guess a Weasley is a Weasley. I had a tiny fantasy that Rupert Grint would show up at the museum for the special occasion, but, alas, he did not.

And that is the Harry Potter Exhibit report. Any questions?


Skyebird said...

that would be so cute if tobin had a mini sorting hat!

Romy- the future Harry lover!! I wonder if JK rowling will show up there- that would be neat!

Skyebird said...

But do you think Tobin would wear the sorting hat? I think i would claw it off.

Nina said...

Omg! I'm so excited that you got to go to that. I really really really want to go when I'm in Chicago for ALA.

What was the best thing you saw?
Was anything disappointing in person?
Were the environments...Hagrid's hut etc. as cool as they sound?
Is this tied at all to the Universal Island of Adventure they're building in Florida? I.e. will you be able to see this stuff there when it's open?

Julie H said...

Skye-- I don't think Tobin would wear it, but if I balance it on his head maybe I can get a quick picture. It would be worth it.

best thing was probably Ron Weasley's patchwork bedspread. Or his dress robes because they were so much uglier in person than they were in the movie. I don't know if anything was disappointing, although all of the models that they had the clothes on were TINY. I don't think they were life-sized. I hope not! The environments were the more disappointing. They really could have made you feel like you were in the Potter world, but I don't think that was the case. It was really fun to see the stuff, but it wasn't as interactive and surreal as I would have liked. I think the Universal thing, if they do it right, will be more like stepping into the Potterverse. I'm hoping! Maybe we can go to the MSI exhibit when you're in town!

Nina said...

Oh cool, I would love to go. I just looked and they are going to have exhibit only evening admission so I don't have to worry about sneaking out of the conference. I'm definitely doing that! Maybe we can do it the night we have dinner.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I'm planning on getting tickets to see this when I'm there for ALA too. This is one of the things I miss about not living in Chicago anymore. It sounds very fun and I really hope they do a good job with the Universal theme park-that could be great.

I just got a Feiwel and Friends catalog today and saw Into the Wild Nerd Yonder in there-it looks wonderful. I can't wait to read it-I was a nerd/geek/dork in high school.

Will you be at ALA at all at the Macmillan booth?

Julie H said...

GreenBeanTeenQueen- I will be at the Feiwel and Friends booth at ALA! I have to double check, but I think it's 11:00 on Sunday. I'll also be at the YALSA Coffee Klatch before that. Did I spell that wrong?

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

Hey Julie-I'll be at the YA coffee thing too!:) And I'm planning on hitting up the exhibit halls after that so I'm sure I'll be seeing you!!