Step into a world of wizards, spells and strange creatures

3 06 2012

Knowing how fanatical fans of Harry Potter can be, many would have looked forward to yesterday’s opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum. The exhibition, making its debut in Asia, is one that gives visitors not just a firsthand look at hundreds of costumes and props that were actually used on set for the series of Harry Potter films, but an experience of Harry Potter’s world – the exhibits are placed in immersive themed settings inspired by Hogwarts locations that transports the visitor right into them. I had a glance at all this – even though I would not say I am a fan, on Friday – before the exhibition actually opened … I was among a group, who were provided with an exclusive tour of it organised by the kind folks of the ArtScience Museum for a select group that included a group of fans and several lifestyle bloggers. That not only allowed me to see the exhibition before the crowds descended on it, I also had the privilege of hearing all about the exhibition straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak – the exhibition’s creator, Mr Eddie Newquist, led the tour – with the enthusiasm of an excited child showing off a prized toy I must say. Accompanying Mr Newquist was the ArtScience Museum’s Executive Director, Mr Nick Dixon.

My introduction to the world of Harry Potter at the ArtScience Museum.

The tour was preceded by a briefing and Q&A session during which we were introduced to Mr Newquist and Mr Dixon. There was also a surprise in store especially for the fans present – two very popular members of the cast, identical twins James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley Twins – Fred and George, made an appearance and were kind enough not only to take questions, but also pose for photographs with the lucky fans present.

The identical twin pair of James and Oliver Phelps who played the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter films are in town for the opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

Mr Dixon (extreme left) with the Phelps twins and Mr Newquist.

Wizard wannabe, host Dominic Lau, waving an imaginary wand ….

The tour soon followed. We headed down to the B2 level of the museum where the entire floor has been devoted to the exhibition. Stepping through into the exhibition, it is the Sorting Hat that the visitor encounters – that put the few who volunteered in their places (the hat places entrants to Hogwarts – the school of wizardry in which Harry is enrolled in and where his adventures centre around, in one of the school’s four houses). We next walked into a mist. And, as a figure with a lamp beckoned us through, the shape of a locomotive becomes visible – that of the Hogwarts Express. That, signalled the commencement of the journey into a magical fantasy world of wizards, spells and strange creatures … a world that until now, only existed to me on the movie screens.

Harry, Ron and Hermione beckoning the visitor into the passageway that leads to the entrance …

I soon found myself totally absorbed in Harry’s world, surrounded by not just its paraphernalia, but also by the places we would have found them in: the Gryffindor common room, Hogwarts classrooms, the Forbidden Forest and the Great Hall … It would certainly be a thrill for many to get up close to many familiar items which include in the Gryffindor Boys’ Dormitory, Harry Porter’s and Ron Weasley’s bunk beds, their trunks, costumes, wands … Harry’s ‘personal’ items here include his acceptance letter into Hogwarts, the Marauder’s Map and the pair of glasses that he wore …

Harry Potter™ and Ron Weasley™ costumes and artifacts that appeared throughout the Harry Potter films © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Harry Potter’s eyeglasses, Hogwarts™ acceptance letter, the Marauder’s Map and his wand © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

There are many opportunities along the way for interaction with some of the exhibits – pull a Mandrake from its pot in the Herbology vignette, toss a Quaffle in the Quidditch area, and tour Hagrid’s hut – where one can have a feel of sitting in Hagrid’s armchair. I found Hagrid’s hut particularly enchanting, and in it was easy to imagine that I was in the fantasy world expecting Hagrid to walk through at any moment.

Recreation of Hagrid’s hut © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Costumes worn during a Quidditch™ match © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Pull your own Mandrake in the Herbology vignette © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

There is also an opportunity to come face-to-face with many of the magical creatures in the Forbidden Forest like Buckbeak the Hippogriff, a Hungarian Horntail dragon, centaurs, and a giant Acromantula. The Buckbeak prop we were told was a study model that could nod to allow the cast to get acquainted with the creature – most of the footage involving Buckbeak used was generated through computer animation. The study model we were also informed has tens of thousands of feathers that were actually put in by hand.

Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff as seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

A trip to Harry Potter’s world would of course not be complete without a walk on the dark side in the Dark Forces gallery … where Voldemort and his death eaters await … Six of Voldermort’s Horcruxes – including, for the first time in the exhibition, Nagini, his serpent and Tom Riddle’s diary can also be found here. There is also that chance for the visitor to hear Voldemort’s spine-chilling voice calling out to them, if they find themselves in the right spot when in the dark side …

Harry Potter: The Exhibition, is created by Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES) in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will be displayed at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands from 2 June 2012 through 30 September 2012. For tickets and more information, visit Exhibition specific information can be found at ArtScience Museum’s Harry Potter: The Exhibition webpage.



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