Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harry Potter Exhibition at Discovery Times Square

A huge poster of Hogwarts Castle greets visitors to Discovery Times Square
(image credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
Hogwarts Express (image credit: Robert Caplin)
Corner of Harry and Ron's dormitory with some props including the
golden egg.  (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
Sweets from Honeydukes (image credit: Robert Caplan)
Hagrid's hut where visitors are encouraged to sit in his chair
(image credit: Timeout)
Marquee of Discovery Times Square with the
Flying Ford. (image credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
The stars were aligned for the Harry Potter Exhibition to open at Discovery Times Square. The last installment in the Harry Potter film series opens next month and just a block away is none other than Daniel Radcliffe who stars as the film's titular character now appearing in a revival of "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" on Broadway. Such alignment will surely have each medium gaining attention from the other.

The Harry Potter Exhibition presents a 14,000-square-foot display of authentic costumes and props on loan from Warners Bros. displayed within settings inspired from the film's sets. Along the way, visitors can enter the Quidditch area and toss a Quaffle, pull their own Mandrake in the Herbology vignette, tour a recreation of Hagrid's hut and sit in his chair, encounter Buckbeak the Hippogriff and look in the many eyes of a giant Acromantual spider in a recreation of the Forbidden Forest.

Death Eater masks (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
Three of the Hocruxes  (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
The tour begins with a lucky couple of visitors subject to the Sorting Hat and placed in one of the four houses at Hogwarts. Then an encounter with the Hogwarts Express leads guests past a gallery of paintings with some of then animated. Of good fun are props and setting showing the vanity of Gilderoy Lockhart (portryaed by Kenneth Branagh on film) and the pink office of Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).  The final room of the tour is a glorious recreation of the Great Hall decked out for the Yule Ball featuring the character's costumes from the event. Also in the room is a delicious display of the delectable candies the students find at Honeydukes Sweetshop in the town of Hogsmeade.

Walking through the exhibition one is reminded of the extensive detail of the wizarding world which author J.K. Rowling wrote about so vividly. The design team of the films had quite a task to realize the minutest detail to satisfy the author and now close-inspection by die-hard fans.

Wanted posters along the halls of the exhibition.
(image credit: Robert Caplin)
 A Cornish pixie (image credit: Robert Caplin)
All tickets to the exhibit are timed to control the crowds but they may be purchased in advance at the box office or online. Picking up a ticket for myself for the first entrance time at 9am, the galleries were not crowded and I could view the displays at leisure and unobstructed. The exhibit is clearly designed for the fans of the books and films. The display cards states the name of the prop and very little additional detail.

However walking through the exhibition felt like a reminder of the character's journeys in the various books and felt like a proper prelude before viewing the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2."

Triwizard Cup
(image credit: Warner Brothers Entertaiment)
Among some exhibition's highlights:
Used by Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Harry Potter to travel back in time and save Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) and Buckbeak in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Harry Potter's School Uniform, Glasses and Wand
Known as the "boy who lived" after Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) attempted to kill him as a baby. Harry's wand is made of holly, with a phoenix-feather core from Fawkes' tail which is also in the core of Lord Voldemort's wand.

Marauder's Map
Given to Harry Potter by Fred and George Weasley in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" to see the whereabouts of everyone at Hogwarts and to avoid them as necessary.

Kreacher the house elf
(image credit: Warner Brothers Entertainment)
Harry Potter's Nimbus 2000
Harry's broomstick as seen in the Quidditch competitions in the "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

The Golden Snitch
Used in the Quidditch matches at Hogwarts where its capture wins the game.

Giant Pawn
One of the chess pieces used in the giant game of wizard chess played by Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".

Hermione Granger's Gown
The elegant gown worn to the Yule Ball in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

Other artifacts of interest include the Death Eater robes and metallic masks, a horrifying Dementor and its quivering cloak, the crystal Triwizard Cup, a study model of the house-elf Dobby and Fawkes (Albus Dumbledore's phoenix).

There is no photography allowed at any point in the exhibit. The audio tour keeps the descriptions clear and concise from the perspective of the film's production and costume design team. The audio clips are short enough for the attention span of young adults before they're able to hit the stop button. An example of unique information in the audio tour is about the development of the Triwizard cup: It was difficult when one had to be manufactured of rubber for action sequences; the prop designers indicate its difficult to mold clear rubber that looks like glass or crystal.

Above photos of the Harry Potter gift shop
(images credit: Robert Caplin)
Naturally at the end of the exhibition is a Harry Potter gift shop. Many of the products are on the expensive side such as the character's wands, school ties and Marauder's Map all priced from $45-$50. At least they all look authentic. I opted instead for the exhibition guide ($19) full of color photos of the props and displays.

The presentation at Discovery Times Square is the final North American stop before traveling internationally. Discovery Times Square is New York City's first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences exploring cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, past presentations include Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, King Tut: Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. In addition to the Harry Potter Exhibition, Pompeii The Exhibit is also currently on display.

The exhibition's official website: harrypotterexhibition.com. Some of the items sold in the gift are available online at WBshop.com. More info and online tickets at disctoverytsx.com or call 1-866-987-9692. The exhibition runs from April 5, 2011 to September 5, 2011. Ticket prices: adults $26, senior $23.50 and children $19.50. Audio tour is $7.50 (one complimentary audio tour when tickets purchased with an American Express card). Hours: Sun-Wed 9am-8pm; Tue-Sat 9am-9pm. Discovery Times Square is located at 226 West 44th St between 7th and 8th Ave. Cake Boss Cafe onsite.  More photos below.

The entrance to Discovery Times Square
(image credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
Photos of Gilderoy Lockhart. (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
Exam about Gilderoy Lcokhart.  (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
"Filthy Mudblood" magnet from the gift shop which also reads
"The Death Eaters will soon be coming for you".
 (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
The wands of Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange and Malfoy.
 (image credit: popwatch.ew.com)
Wanted posters (image credit: Robert Caplin)
Quidditch Uniforms (image credit: Robert Caplin)
More sweets from Honeydukes. (image credit: Robert Caplin)
Dobby the house elf (image credit: Robert Caplin)
Props from the office of Dolores Umbridge
(image credit: Robert Caplin)
Various books by and about Gilderoy Lockhart.
(image credit: Robert Caplin)
Slughorn and Snapes costumes (image credit: Robert Caplin).
A horcrux, Salazar Slytherin's locket (image credit: Mike Coppola)
Teeth on the Monster Book of Monsters.
(image credit: Mike Coppola)
Helga Hufflepuff's cup
(image credit: Mike Coppola)
Quidditch equipment (image credit: Warner Brothers Entertainment)
Harry and Ron's room (image credit: Warner Brothers Entertainment).


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