Up Close And Personal With Harry Potter’s Magic Wand

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

There are moments when we just have to embrace our inner geek. Considering that this is Mount Holyoke, where many of us have quirks and hang ups about the strangest things, this is something not unusual. I had one of those moments when my inner film nerd came out in full force this weekend. There I was, standing in front of the Mecca of all film set props: Harry Potter’s magic wand…and broom…and everything else from the Harry Potter movies you can imagine.

Harry Potter™: The Exhibition is a new exhibit that opened at Boston’s Museum of Science on Oct. 25. Here more than 200 props, costumes and creatures from the six Harry Potter movies are on display, transporting fans into the wizarding world. The props are displayed in settings inspired by the film sets: Hagrid’s hut, the Dark Forest, the Great Hall and many more.

The exhibit begins with a sorting. Several lucky members from the tour group are chosen from the crowd (I suggest you jump like a maniac in the back row, like my friend Ruth did, if you want to be selected), are placed under the sorting hat and learn their Hogwarts house. From there you enter into a screening room where clips from the films are shown, setting the mood for the experience you are about to have.

Once the doors open, you are led past the Hogwarts Express and down a corridor filled with magical paintings. You walk through the Fat Lady’s portrait and into the Gryffindor common room. Now the real adventure has begun. As you stroll past endless props and costumes, you are transported into Harry Potter’s world. There is Harry’s admission letter to Hogwarts from Sorcerer’s Stone; the Basilisk from Chamber of Secrets; the Time Turner and Marauder’s Map from Prisoner of Azkaban; Hermione’s Yule Bal gown and Triwizard Cup from Goblet of Fire, Dolores Umbridge’s office from Order of Phoenix; and the potions book from Half-Blood Prince.

These props and costumes are a part of elaborate film set recreations. Everything from Ron Weasley’s dorm room to the Divination classroom to the Great Hall have been splendidly recreated. Throughout the exhibit, you can participate in essential wizarding world activities toss a Quaffle, pull a screeching Mandrake and sit in Hagrid’s chair. All that is missing is the chance to ride Buckbeak the Hippogriff or duel a Hungarian Horntail dragon.

While at Harry Potter: The Exhibition, I was reminded of the significance that Harry Potter has had in my life. They certainly are not the first books I remember reading as a child, but are among my childhood favorites. This exhibition is a wonderful reminder of why I love the Harry Potter films. Most of all, it is a reminder of how Harry Potter has affected not only my life but will influence a whole new generation of fans. Throughout the exhibit, I kept stumbling over a little boy who was no more than 10 years old dressed like Harry Potter. While his costume was not as elaborate as the couple dressed as Dumbledore and Trelawney (it was Harry Potter), this little boy perfectly encompasses what the Harry Potter franchise truly represents. J.K. Rowling created a world that offers the perfect escape from reality, and there is no doubt it will continue to influence and delight in the years to come.

The flying car from the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter: The Exhibition will be on display at Boston’s Museum of Science until February 12, 2010.

Published: November 5, 2009
The Mount Holyoke News

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