Books and Wands
|Harry Potter: The Exhibition
On June 12, in an act of true gallantry and courageousness, Rilian and I battled through the
streets on Manhattan to Harry Potter: The Exhibition. The exhibition opened on April 5, 2011 and is
located in the Discovery Times Square Building on 44th Street.
Absolutely no picture-taking was allowed, which is customary of the exhibitions there. Instead, I’
ll try to give you my best picture of our experience through words, and I vow to be perfectly
I would like to say that I walked up to the building as calmly and civilly as possible, but that
would be a lie and I JUST promised pure honesty.
I was so over-the-top excited that I skipped and bounced my way into the front lobby, of course
causing a slew of onlookers as well as the embarrassment of the group of people who had dared
to accompany me.
Luckily, I had decided early on that nothing could keep me from holding back my excitement
and my company in turn would just have to grin and bear it.
After sorting our tickets and finding our way to the right floor,
we made it to the picture station. Everyone’s tour starts off with
a picture in front of a green screen. They will later superimpose
two images — one of the Great Hall and one in front of the
Hogwarts castle. You have the opportunity to buy the images
in various shapes and sizes at the end of the tour.
Keep in mind — I was still bouncing from the exhilaration of the
whole situation, but the crew was certainly ready for the diehard
fans. As I skipped my way over to take my picture, one
dedicated worker mumbled, “Oh my Godric, you guys are
excited.” Well, now I was bouncing even higher.
After taking the picture, they lead one small group at a time into a room with one stool. Any real
fan can tell immediately that it’s a house sorting.
A female host with a British accent (still debating on whether or not it was real) called a little
boy up to the stage. Donned in a Gryffindor robe, she asked him what his favorite house was,
and he answered, “Slytherin.” (Of all the houses!!) She then placed the Sorting Hat on his head,
and amazingly he was sorted into Slytherin!!
She then moved onto a little girl who declared her love for Ravenclaw (who was then magically
sorted into Ravenclaw!) At that point, I assumed our host was targeting the younger children, so
I sort of gave up any hope that someone in our group would be picked. Sure enough, she chose
another young guest who wanted to be in Hufflepuff, and the Sorting Hat chose that exact house
Just when I had given up all hope, the host pointed to our group standing in the back of the
room and asked for one of us to be sorted!
After trying to persuade Ril to go up on stage (but not for that long), I dashed to the front and
leaped onto the stool. I told the host that Gryffindor was my favorite house and crossed my
fingers. She then placed the Sorting Hat on my head, while I mumbled, “Not Slytherin...anything
And amazingly enough, I became a Gryffindor!
All right, I promised to be honest. I’ll let you in on the secret. They sorted you
into whatever house you claimed to be your favorite. Whatever. I’m still in
Gryffindor either way.
I also guess it would’ve been nice for them to sort the whole group, especially
since everyone paid the same price.
However, I was picked, so who cares about everyone else?
There was a little more fanfare before you actually got to start looking at
artifacts. They show you a video montage of clips of all seven films, which
ends with the sound of a train and leads you to a model of the Hogwarts
Express. Finally, they let you into the exhibition and your tour officially begins.
Before I describe anything, here is my biggest (and probably only) complaint about the
exhibition. It was solely about the movies. No mention of J.K. Rowling at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Not a picture. Not a handwritten page. Not one of her many renderings or drawings of how she
pictures this world or the people and places inside it.
Not that I really feel any pity for her. She’s J.K. Rowling.
She’s richer than the Queen. It’s just a little odd that the woman behind Harry Potter was not
present in Harry Potter: The Exhibition.
Only good stuff from hereon in...
The artifacts were grouped into rooms, as closely related as possible. You are not allowed to
touch anything with the exception of the objects in three interactive activities, which
I’ll point out along the way. You start out with life at Hogwarts.
There was a line of costumes that various student characters wear throughout the seven movies,
followed by a display of the boys’ dormitories with Harry and Ron’s four poster beds.
This is followed by tributes to each of the Hogwarts classrooms, including Defense Against the
Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, and Herbology. This brings us to the first of the
three interactive activities.
In the Herbology classroom, they allow you to pull baby mandrakes out of their pots causing
them to whine and scream and cry. This activity doesn’t take long to complete and is fun for
about ten whole seconds.
But no more complaints, remember?
You travel through Hagrid’s Hut next (like you actually get to walk through it).
Our second interactive activity appears: Though you are still not allowed to touch a single
thing, you are encouraged to sit in Hagrid’s giant chair.
Though I did enjoy getting a sense of how tall our half-giant friend is, it is once again
entertaining for a total of a few seconds. Without the ability to take pictures of you and your
guests in the big chair, it loses some of its charm.
After leaving Hagrid’s Hut, you’re led to believe that you are outside of Hogwarts. There are
statues and models of the many magical creatures, including Buckbeak! (And Fawkes, though
he's in a different section.)
Though the actions of the creatures that you see in the movies are simulated through computer
animation, the designers still created life-size models of the animals so that they would have
images to scan into their computers.
Still outside of Hogwarts, the exhibition then included a section dedicated to Quidditch, the
costumes, the equipment, the brooms, etc.
Here comes our third and final interactive activity. You get the opportunity to throw Quaffles
through three hoops. Of all the activities, this one kept us entertained for the most amount of
time, and even boosts your spirits with a little “Ding!” every time you get a point.
There is a dark, creepy section after that, and I really have to give myself credit for being a brave
girl here. I wasn’t bouncing for this part, but I did manage to keep my eyes open. There are
statues of dementors, costumes worn by the dark wizards, and almost all of the Horcruxes.
They even have the dagger that Bellatrix used to stop Dobby. This confirmed that the exhibition
included all seven movies and was truly complete.
You end the tour in the Great Hall. A major part of this room is dedicated to the Yule Ball and
the visiting schools from Goblet of Fire, one of the most important appearances of the Great Hall
throughout the series.
There were costumes from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, as well as the dress robes our main
characters don at the Yule Ball. In display cases located in the middle of the room are many of
Fred and George’s wonderful creations.
The room curves at the end, leading you out to the gift shop, but not before displaying its most
prized possession of the entire exhibition — the Sword of Godric Gryffindor.
My group got the audio tour included in our package. At the beginning of your tour, you are
given a device resembling a phone that you can wear around your neck.
Throughout the tour, the artifacts and display cases will have a number on top of the symbol of
an old phonograph. Whenever you see that symbol, you dial the number into your phone and
learn a few every facts about that artifact.
If you’re planning on doing the tour anytime soon, I highly recommend adding on the audio
tour. It forced my group to take our time with the exhibition rather than rush through it.
It also provided some extra interesting facts that you don’t get from the exhibition itself. Did
you know that Daniel Radcliffe was actually allergic to the first pair of glasses they made him
wear? They left red marks around his face and forced the prop department to design new pairs
until they found one he was able to wear.
Or that each actor has 6 wands made for them, 3 hard wood and 3 rubber, for stunts?
Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten the chance to get there yet—the exhibition will be there until
September 5. I myself am considering a second go around.
Despite my one complaint, I would declare this one a must-see for all Potter fans!
The Ford Anglia dangles above the entrance
to the exhibit space.
|"Lightning Over New York City" photography by Christopher Imperato.
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