Harry Potter: The Exhibition
Harry Potter: The Exhibition at Discovery Times Square (New York City) seems to have been around forever but the September 5th closing date compelled me to check it out this weekend. It’s a collection of props, wardrobe and set decorations saved from the film series’ production that you can walk up to for close examination. But no touching or photographing upon penalty of death! Well, actually at the tour’s start you’re warned of being escorted off the premises forthwith.

For a film buff it’s always a pleasure to see how these artifacts are constructed. In some cases, books of magic need only modified covers to appear authentic. But other things in the Harry Potter world must start from scratch because they just don’t exist, like Hermoine’s Time-Turner necklace or a Nimbus 2001 broomstick. Also present are full-scale Cornish Pixies and Buckbeak the Hippogriff among other creatures. Even in CGI-driven effects movies, physical models of the creatures are built to be on-set as helpful reference to animation artists as well as the actors.

No less impressive are the displayed costumes, especially the prom outfits from The Goblet of Fire, where you can appreciate the colors and textures of the special fabrics utilized. But an unexpected yet wonderful quality unique to this franchise becomes apparent when viewing the younger actors’ costumes: time. The increasing wardrobe sizes bear witness to the their progression from childhood to adulthood as the story progresses over a decade.

At the end of any exhibition is the inevitable waypoint which everyone endures: the gift shop! Like the concession stand at the movie theater, the venue gift shop is a money-maker. You can’t avoid it, because all gift shops are situated directly at the exit. For convenience or marketing ploy? You decide.

Even having enjoyed all the films, I’m still only a casual Potter fan. The resin character wands were reasonably priced and tempting, but having a staff person assigned to identify which wand belonged to who in the unmarked boxes was kinda off-putting. It was like you had to at least pay attention to the tour to ace a pop quiz.

Still, the “Official Exhibition Guide” is an obligatory souvenir, featuring pictures of the exhibit we couldn’t take photographs of in the first place. Seeing a tourist perusing one on my bus commute home a few weeks back was what initially piqued my interest in the exhibit. I also picked up the book Harry Potter: Film Wizardry which is a comprehensive “making-of” overview of the film series.

‘Mad props’ to Warner Bros. for showcasing the artistry and craftsmanship of the Harry Potter films like the treasure that it is for the public to appreciate.