It was with a heavy heart that I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and last novel in the Harry Potter series by J. K Rowling back in 2007. You know the feeling of not wanting a certain experience to end, but at the same time wanting to know that the characters you’ve invested so much in, get their happy ending.
This feeling was also echoed during the airing of the eighth film in the movie franchise last year. After ten years of having a new Harry Potter movie to look forward to almost every year, watching the final film was bittersweet.
Those who are fans of the books and movies will be pleased to know that you can relive the magic again by visiting Harry Potter: The Exhibition, a traveling exhibit that features the iconic props and costumes from all eight Harry Potter films. The exhibit currently in Singapore, made its world premiere in Chicago in April 2009 before traveling on to Boston, Toronto, Seattle, New York City, and Sydney.
Thanks to a quick family trip to attend my sister’s PhD graduation in Literary Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS), my mother, my sister Lorie, nephew Eli and I got to visit the exhibit at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands last weekend. Since our trip itinerary was limited to kid-friendly places, this was an ideal place to visit.
There were lots of cool props and touches heading into the exhibit area, including a Flying Ford Anglia hanging from the ceiling. The enchanted car owned by Ron’s family was what Harry and Ron rode to Hogwarts during their second year (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), when they got stranded at Platform 9 3/4. A stuffed owl was perched on top of a sign pointing the way into the exhibit, and we passed by an area where an official photographer was waiting to take a souvenir photo. Attendants handed us wands and scarves (they automatically give people red since they assume most people would want to be Gryffindor, though my sister asked for blue for Ravenclaw) for the photo op.
The next hallway and waiting area leading into the exhibit was lined with posters of the eight Harry Potter films released from 2001 to 2011, which sent a wave a nostalgia through us.
Right before the entrance to the exhibit was a sign proclaiming that no photography or filming of any kind was allowed inside. “Filming and photography of any kind are strictly prohibited. We respectfully ask that NO FOOD or DRINK be taken into the exhibition. Please DO NOT TOUCH any of the original costumes, props, or scenery as many items are irreplaceable.”
I was disappointed but I kept my camera, since rules are rules. I did see a few people sneaking photos with their cameraphones inside though. (Since I didn’t get to take any photos inside, am reposting a few photos from the gallery section of the exhibition’s official website.)
I really don’t want to spoil the experience for those who want to see the exhibit for themselves, so if you’re planning to go and prefer to be surprised, skip to the end of this article on useful info.
The first area took us back to Harry’s very first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during the sorting ceremony. An attendant in Hogwarts robes asked for a volunteer to come forward and sit on a chair. A little girl from Malaysia stepped forward, a sorting hat was placed over her head, and a recorded audio clip declared her “a brave soul” and said she better be placed in Gryffindor. We wanted to have Eli sorted too, but since he is only turning 3 years old this September, we surmised that he’s still a bit too young for Hogwarts.
In the next room, we got a quick look back at some of the most memorable clips from the eight movies, and a huge doorway opened to reveal the front part of the Hogwarts Express, the train that transports students to Hogwarts Castle at the start of every term.
Then, we headed to a recreation of Hagrid’s ramshackle Hut, with a huge chair that visitors could sit on and the Monster Books of Monsters on display, the vicious textbook used in the Care of Magical Creatures course.
There was a section of the Forbidden Forest with a baby Thestral and a gallery of the magical portraits that decorate the walls of Hogwarts Castle, including the portrait of the fat lady who guards the Gryffindor tower, which Eli was fascinated with. There was an overwhelming amount of props displayed in glass cases, with were just so detailed, down to the intricate carvings on wands, newspapers like the Quibbler, various spell books, and props used for Quidditch games.
Stations showed the different classes taught by Hogwarts Professors, including Gilderoy Lockhart’s Defence against the Dark Arts course, with his self-indulgent portraits, an array of his best-selling books and a caged Cornish Pixie; Professor Trelawney’s tea items and magic crystal ball for Divination; and Professor Dolores Umbridge’s notices against erring students.
There was this huge wardrobe with sounds coming from a boggart inside and a creepy jack-in-the-box clown (the Riddikulus version of the giant cobra) which is Padma Patil’s greatest fear in the third movie (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). There was an array of the different costumes including the dress robes the main characters wore to the Yule Ball during the Triwizard Tournament, school uniforms, and Quidditch uniforms.
The Great Hall was even recreated with floating candles hanging from the ceiling and tables laden with goodies, including the crazy wizarding treats manufactured and sold by the Weasley twins.
There were a few interactive stations for kids, such as an area where you could throw quaffles through hoops to simulate a Quidditch match, and a Herbology garden with a row of potted mandrakes, which would wail when you lifted them up from their pots, which Eli kind of liked.
The last part of the exhibition was a souvenir shop reminiscent of Diagon Alley where replica props and items that drew inspiration from the books and movies were sold. Aside from the usual assortment of shirts, bags and scarves in the house colors of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff, there were really cool items such as an intricately drawn Marauder’s Map with numerous folds, Wanted Posters featuring villains and Harry Potter as Undesirable No. 1, replica broomsticks, eyeglasses, Hedwig plush owls, and wands of the different characters. There were also necklaces with pendants of Hermione’s Time Turner, a golden snitch, and the logo of the Deathly Hallows, among others.
The most affordable souvenirs were packs of Chocolate Frogs (which come with a card of a character from the HP unviverse) and small boxes of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (S$6.00), jelly beans in crazy flavors like earthworm, earwax, and dirt, with a few conventional flavors thrown in like marshmallow, tutti-frutti and cinnamon. I tried it out with some friends last night, and thankfully there were no vomit and booger flavored ones in the pack I bought. Most of the weird flavors like black pepper and soap are still edible, but the rotten egg was pretty foul! Fun to eat though!
Harry Potter: The Exhibition is a must-see for all Potterheads and anyone who wants to relive the magic of the Wizarding World. If you’re heading to Singapore anytime soon, you should definitely check this out!
- Harry Potter: The Exhibition runs in the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from 2 June to 30 September, 2012. After Singapore, the tour will continue on to additional international cultural and entertainment venues, museums and institutions.
- The ArtScience Museum is open from 10:00am to 10:00pm with the last admission for guests at 9.00pm.
- Tickets cost S$24.00 for adults, S$21.00 for seniors (65 years old & above) and S$14.00 for children (2-12 years old). Group bookings and family tickets are also available. Audio guide rentals cost an additional S$3.00.
- Only a limited number of people are allowed to enter the exhibit every hour. You can stay inside the exhibit for an hour only, before they let the next batch of people in.
- We arrived after lunch and were able to book tickets for the next tour easily, without making any reservations. The crowds noticeably got thicker towards the late afternoon.
- Tickets are valid for single entry only, and once you exit the souvenir shop, you can’t go back in again.
- Take note that NO PHOTOGRAPHY is allowed in the actual exhibit itself.
- If you’re a fan and you want to buy souvenirs, prepare to spend a LOT of money as souvenirs are expensive. The official guidebook costs S$30.00, the Marauder’s Map costs S$60.00 and the souvenir photo costs S$20.00. (1 SGD = 33 PHP)
- A gallery of the most popular merchandise (clothing, accessories and toys) can be found here.
- For more information, visit the exhibit’s official website www.harrypotterexhibition.com
Harry Potter names, characters, and related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. and Harry Potter Publishing Rights (C) JKR. Collage of movie posters taken from http://asiacinema.net. Photos inside the museum taken from Harry Potter: The Exhibition official website.