Harry Potter: The Exhibition Review

During the filming of Harry Potter the props and costumes were unobtainable. Dementors (might as well have) guarded the wands, robes or even Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes; ready to suck the soul out of anyone who tried to procure these crucial articles. Over eleven years have past since Harry Potter cast a spell on audiences around the world and now the props, costumes and sets that brought J.K. Rowling’s magical world to life through cinema are on display for all muggles. For the first time ever, Australia has been able to play host to this one-of-a-kind Harry Potter collection. Harry Potter fanatics swarmed to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to catch a glimpse of the clothing that has had physical contact with the stars of Harry Potter! The magical items were presented in a superb manner as exclaimed by Julia, a Harry Potter fan who visited the exhibition, finally providing the longing fans with the opportunity to cast their own spell.

Let me take you back fifty years ago…

Riding Sydney’s own Hogwarts Express, the Monorail, I made my way to the Powerhouse Museum. Practically running towards the museum in excitement, I rounded the corner to finally sight it. There was a line; perhaps Gilderoy Lockhart himself was there? Thank god the Durmstrang academy didn’t bring their weather with them; we’re Australian, we don’t do snow. I was grateful it was the first session of the day, but I couldn’t imagine what the line would be like later. After what felt like several hours, the doors finally opened! The adventure was about to begin. All the ticket bizzo was done, and I made my way with my family to the exhibit. Before we galloped in, there was a photographer wanting to take our picture. Standing against a green screen as she took our photograph, we were curious as to what would appear in the background. We waited for her to reveal our photo. We were in the Great Hall! As if I wasn’t excited enough before! We waited in line, snaked along the red ropes as the suspense escalating as the time for our session grew nearer.

Hmm, very difficult, very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see not a bad mind either. There’s talent, oh yes and a thirst to prove yourself, but where to put you?

Amongst my group of sixty, we squeezed through a set of doors to a room. A man fully decked out in Hogwarts robes was stationed behind the Sorting Hat which was placed on a wooden stool looking rather pleased with itself. Two children got sorted into houses; our group produced a Slytherin and a Hufflepuff. Against my heart’s desires I let the children of the group relish this opportunity. Besides, I know I’m a Slytherin.

Caput Draconis…

Fortuna Major…

Balderdash…

Mimbulus mimbletonia…

I was getting impatient and yet came another room almost mockingly as if it could feel our anticipation, I wondered if I needed a password to get in. It revealed several rectangular screens on the wall simultaneously showing scenes from the films, to get us ready for what was behind. Unnecessary, I thought, I was ready yesterday. Finally, a large set of doors opened revealing the exhibit; I made sure to rein in the fan-girl part of me that was bursting at the seams. Portraits mirroring the ones seen in the films lined the walls; I swear I saw one raise an eyebrow. Following the portraits, the truly stunning costumes of the teachers were the next thing to capture my eye. Mannequins modelled the robes and were placed in front of the sets and props of their relevant classrooms. Snape’s black robes were presented against the backdrop of his dungeon-esk potions classroom, and various files, glassware and books of deathly potions were displayed in glass cabinets; it was magical. Lupin’s wardrobe drew my attention next, as it’s shiny exterior caught my eye. Standing in front of it, I imagined myself in a Defence Against the Dark Arts class. ‘Riddikilus’ I forcefully stated somewhat expectantly. Of course, nothing happened. Disappointed, I moved on to the students’ robes, which were presented in front of the beds from their respective house dormitories. For all Rupert Grint and Tom Felton fans (myself included), I gave their clothes a whiff, hoping there was just a little scent left from their previous occupants. A favourite of mine was next. The Quidditch robes not only were exquisite and showed not only a literally change in the physicality of the characters, but also mirrored the darkness of the stories’ plots, as they became increasingly so throughout the series.

Dotted throughout the exhibition were various interactive activities, each derived from some aspects of the Harry Potter series. The first was a lesson in Herbology; never try and retrieve a mandrake from a pot because it only ends up bursting your eardrums. The second was for the more athletically gifted; a lesson in Quidditch involving several hoops and quaffles.
Julia, a Harry Potter fan, visited the exhibition and loved it as much as Draco loves to run to his father to complain and whinge about every little thing that doesn’t go his way. A highlight for Julia was Hagrid’s Hut. You could literally walk through the front door and get cosy by the fireplace. She was greeted by Hagrid’s large costume, the size of which can only be appreciated in real life, the cauldron in which Hagrid illegally raised Norbert, and a very large and engulfing armchair.
The Gift Shop was sensational. Like an unrestrained Cornish pixie, I flew around the store purchasing everything I could lay my hands on.

Mischief managed

Harry Potter: The Exhibition definitely exceeded my expectations. The intricate costumes are not done justice on screen and I’m sure everyone who went worshiped the costume, prop and set designers. Agreeing 100% with Julia, ‘every element of the exhibition was beautifully presented… I enjoyed it very much”, it’s not just an exhibition, it’s an experience.

  • Afusco

    Great article, Tori. You must have had a fabulous English teacher!!