Harry Potter the Exhibition Casts a Spell over Boston

Anyone who wishes Commons had an enchanted ceiling and floating candles should visit Boston’s Museum of Science this winter for some magical excitement. Through February 21, 2010, “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” is on display, featuring many of the props, costumes, sets and creatures from the movie series. The experience of attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry begins in the museum lobby where the knight chess piece that Ron Weasley rode in the first movie rears over the ticket lines. The magical world only becomes more realistic when the ushers wear black robes and speak in British accents. Angela Kim ’12, who visited the exhibition, recounts, “I volunteered to be sorted. I was called up in front of the whole crowd and was asked which house was my favorite. I said Gryffindor. The sorting hat took some time but it finally placed me into Gryffindor.” Film clips and familiar music from the movies’ soundtracks capture the sensation of stepping into Harry’s world as one enters the Gryffindor common room, Professor Umbridge’s office and the Hogwarts greenhouses. Dispersed among the set pieces are the wands of all of the main characters. Although viewers only see quick flicks of these wands in the movies, it is interesting to notice the craftsmanship that went into creating each distinctive wand, reflective of its user’s personality. The school robes and casual clothes of Harry, Ron, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley and many other favorite characters are on display, as well as the more decadent robes of teachers such as Gilderoy Lockhart and Professor Dumbledore. Harry’s iconic glasses are another highlight of the exhibit. The mood of the exhibition changes from room to room in accordance with Harry’s years at Hogwarts. After the lively common room and class scenes comes the full set of Hagrid’s hut, complete with the dragon’s egg and the pots and pans Hagrid uses. Hagrid’s gamekeeper outfit portrays just how large the amiable half-giant really is. Next, eerie sounds warn visitors that they are entering the Forbidden Forest and the world of the Dark Arts. Death Eaters’ robes and giant spiders cast a spell of fear on the viewers. Many of the fantastic creatures featured in the movies were animated, but the actors needed models of these characters with which to interact convincingly. Lighting specialists used the models to see where shadows should fall and animators scanned them into computers. Chilling dementors, familiar house-elves and other magical creatures appear in the displays. The Great Hall invites visitors to join in the festivities of the Yule Ball. The party clothes of many lead characters stand next to mouth-watering displays of Honeydukes sweets and deserts used in feast scenes. Enchanted portraits and movie screens cover the walls, portraying the bustle of the Great Hall. To immerse visitors even further in the Hogwarts way of life, some features of the exhibition are interactive. Visitors can test their Quidditch skills by throwing a Quaffle, or they can pull out screeching mandrakes. An optional audio tour informs visitors about more specific details of the pieces on exhibit. Costumers and prop directors comment on topics ranging from the difficulty of finding Harry just the right glasses, to the acquisition of a particular fabric, to their reasons for choosing particular costumes. With the remarkable breadth of familiar props on exhibit and the atmospheric music and media, “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” succeeds in giving Harry Potter fans a fun and unusual museum experience. All ages will enjoy this adventure into the magical world. For more information, visit