Potter exhibit proves magical for Museum of Science

Date: 12/15/2009

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Managing Editor

BOSTON - Muggles and would-be wizards take note: a collection of Harry Potter's favorite - and not-so-favorite - things have come to this city for a visit.

And you can see them all at the Museum of Science (MOS) through Feb. 21, 2010.

The east coast premiere of "Harry Potter - The Exhibition" has transformed the second floor special events hall of the museum into a Hogswart on the Charles, offering Potter fans an opportunity to get an up-close look at the costumes, props and some of the movie magic behind the seven films that have to date chronicled the story of "the boy who lived."

Recently I visited the exhibition with three other Potter fans - my husband John, my nine-year-old son Evan and his friend, Trevor.

Timed tickets in hand, we joined a group of other visitors to await entrance into the exhibit where, thanks to the pre-show messages on the self-guided audio tour ($5 per person, and well worth the expense), the boys found the wait more than tolerable.

Our appointed time arrived and we started our visit at the Sorting Hat, where one lucky visitor in our group got the chance to don the famed hat and have it choose a house for them.

From there we entered the eight-screen mini-theater where a montage of clips refreshed our memories of all of Harry, Ron and Hermione's adventures.

Just as the film ended, a shrill whistle sounded behind us and a door lifted, revealing the Hogswart's Express engine wreathed in a cloud of steam.

It was all very dramatic and great fun. A conductor then ushered us into the moving portrait gallery where we walked through the Fat Lady to see displays of school uniforms, the Marauder's Map, a Howler, Harry's wand and glasses, Ron's monogrammed sweater and hat and many more bits and things that made Hogswart's Hogswart's in a recreated model of the Gryffindor common room.

As we walked on, the boys gave a cursory look at the costumes and props associated with professors Snape, Trelawney, Lupin, Lockhart, and Umbridge in the classroom area, and instead headed straight to a row of Mandrakes to try their hands at pulling one from its pot. The surprisingly heavy props screeched as expected with each yank.

Needless to say, the boys had to be prodded a bit to move on, until one of them heard the thud of a ball. Before we could say "Expelliarmuss" they flew over to the Quidditch toss and began competing to see who could get the most quaffles through one of the mounted scoring hoops. (Die-hard film fans should note that the Nimbus 2000 broom prop, the Golden Snitch, a miniature display of the Quidditch World Cup and other movie artifacts are also on display here).

The simulated cracking of an animatronic dinosaur's egg on an oversized table drew us into the area called Hagrid's Hut, where we grown-up muggles marveled at the size of Hagrid's costume (few camera tricks here, Robbie Coltrane wore scads of padding and played his part on stilts!) while the boys had a good giggle over the fact that the two of them easily fit in the seat of the gamekeeper's favorite chair.

The Hut was also where I saw the prop I found the most fascinating of everything in the exhibit a life-size model of Buckbeak the Hippogriff. From the audio tour I learned that this model was actually a semi-functioning, wing-flapping animatron; one that had been a favorite on the movie set due to its tendency to turn its head and follow everyone who walked by with its eyes!

A cold breeze accompanied by simulated thunder and lightning made our walk through the Forbidden Forest - where models of giant spiders and life size centaurs await - and Dark Forces displays - complete with Lord Voldemort's and Death Eaters robes - appropriately sinister, and a sharp contrast to the gaily lit Great Hall, where props and costumes from the Yule Ball (it's hard to believe Emma Watson's waist is so tiny!), feasts and other hall scenes close the exhibit.

Too soon we found ourselves saying "goodbye" to the portraits at the exhibits' exit and signing the guest book, each boy proclaiming his time in the movie-magical world of Harry Potter "awesome."

About the Exhibit

"Harry Potter - The Exhibition" is a timed-entry ticketed event, open to visitors during the museum's regular exhibit hall hours Saturday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p. m.

During the school vacation holiday break the museum will be open Dec. 26 through 30 and Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tickets to "Harry Potter - The Exhibition," which include admission to all museum exhibit halls, are $26 for adults, $24 for seniors, $23 for children ages three to 11, and $5 for museum members. Order tickets by phone at (617) 723-2500 or online at this Web site.

The Museum of Science is located at 1 Science Park, Boston. Directions are available at www.mos.org/visitor_info.