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Kids pull out mandrakes in the Herbology area of the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston.
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The Harry Potter Exhibition

The Museum of Science, Boston, MA

October 25, 2009 – February 21, 2010

Instead of heading to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Hogwarts Express left platform 9 3/4 and took a transatlantic detour to Boston this September. Though no young witches and wizards were aboard the train, more than two hundred authentic costumes and props were.

These artifacts were used in the Harry Potter films and will expectantly await visitors in the Boston Museum of Science from now until February 21, 2010, when the Hogwarts Express will take them back home. On October 22, a group of Very Important Muggles were invited to an evening reception at the Boston Museum of Science to see the magic before the East Coast Premiere of the exhibition. The Exhibition allows fans of the film series to see the artistry and craftsmanship of the props and costumes used in the Harry Potter films. The exhibition is separated into seven different settings: the “Gryffindor Common Room,” “Classrooms,” “Quidditch,” “Hagrid’s Hut,” the “Forbidden Forest,” “Dark Forces,” and “The Great Hall.”

The passion and devotion that set designers of the Harry Potter film series put into their work can really be seen through the exhibition. In the movie, there are scenes which show transient shots of the Daily Prophet or flyers on a bulletin board. Not until seeing those same props at the exhibition will the true details be appreciated. Each page of The Prophet is filled with actual articles about the wizarding world. The bulletin board in the Gryffindor Common Room is tacked with a sign-up sheet for a weekend Hogsmead trip, a flyer that tells about the retrieval of a lost Merlin’s Beard, and an advertisement for Weasely’s Wizarding Wheezes. The most amazing piece of artifact is the the Marauder’s Map. When viewed up close, the map shows what seems to be the exact blueprint of Hogwarts, and each fold and flap on it is either a secret passageway or a staircase.

Each artifact is specially designed with intense detail, especially the wands. Fans who have seen the movies may know that each wand is different, but perhaps do not realize how different. Professor Snape’s wand, made of ebony and inlaid with a simple, archaic design, is perhaps the most elegant of all the wands on display. In contrast, the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand of all, resembled something carved out of a bleached oracle bone with arched, uneven bumps for a handle. The seal of the three hollows is the only thing that made the wand look special.

Not only does the exhibit offer a deeper look into the intricacies of the set design, but it is also a good place for kids to experience some interactive magical fun. In the Herbology classroom, visitors can learn how to pull mandrakes, and on the Quidditch field, enthusiasts can try to score points with a Quaffle. In the classroom setting, the personalities of the professors are shown in their robes and room decorations. Most memorable is Professor Umbridge’s office. Freakishly pink and high-brow Victorian in style, her office is the regurgitation of Barbie’s mom.

For those die-hard fans of Harry Potter who wish to know every miniscule detail about the creation and utilization of each artifact, there is a audio tour which accompanies the visual tour. Those who wish to go on the audio/visual tour can request a portable audio player to take along on their walk-through of the exhibition. The audio accompaniment allows viewers the chance to learn the reason and process through which a certain artifact is made and it’s relevance in the movies. For maximization of the tour experience, the audio/visual tour is highly recommended.

Tickets to the Harry Potter Exhibition are available online at www.mos.org and by phone at 617-723-2500.