Call me a sappy baby, but by the time I was in line waiting to enter “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” at Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum in Singapore, tears had begun to blur my vision.
Though the exhibit was short—each entrance ticket is good for only one hour to tour the exhibit—it is packed from floor to ceiling with goodies that are sure to please any Potterhead.
The exhibit starts with a lucky volunteer getting sorted (the adults with me were well-behaved enough to leave the volunteering to kids), and then we were ushered to the main hall, with the first area dedicated to the actors’ actual costumes during filming—school robes, Quidditch gear, Muggle clothing, formal pieces from the Yule Ball in The Goblet of Fire (Emma Watson’s Yule Ball gown is proof of her extremely tiny waist), dorm room beds and chests.
I highly recommend paying the extra $6 for the audio guide. People directly involved in the films’ production talk about the little details that have made the films an authentic experience for fans, e.g. Harry, Hermione and Ron had at least six prop wands each, made of either wood or rubber to withstand wear and tear, and the golden egg that was part of Harry’s clue in the fourth film was actually made of gold through and through! Each portion of the exhibit has a tiny icon of a gramophone with a number that you key into your handheld audio guide to hear what each member of the production team has to say about that particular prop/costume.
Actual portraits, both still and “enchanted” lined the walls of the exhibit, and yes, the fat lady guarding the Gryffindor dormitory entrance is on loan, too (no passwords were required since she was on holiday).
The exhibit also contains an interactive component, where you can join Prof. Sprout’s Herbology class (lesson: uprooting screaming baby mandrakes, so don’t forget your ear muffs!), a small Quidditch training pitch where you can try to shoot a Quaffle through the hoops, or walk further down and snuggle in Hagrid’s giant leather chair.
Also on display are the numerous props used throughout the films and you can see the loving detail placed in each—the Horcruxes (I wanted to steal Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem!), the golden egg is just gorgeous up close and Harry’s borrowed
Potions textbook from the Half-Blood Prince is unbelievably intricate—the scribbles along the margins will make you feel able to easily whip up a Felix Felicis potion yourself, despite being a mere Muggle.
Creatures also make an appearance, from the beloved Dobby, Kreacher (don’t hand him a sock!) and Buckbeak. Parts of the exhibit were built to look like a particular place—we were able to walk into the Great Hall decorated for a party and as the exhibit wound down, we had to walk through the Forbidden Forest, and I actually felt chills at how sinister it looked.
Though there were centaurs to protect you, beware of the giant spider lurking—it looks too real for comfort. As the exhibit ends, the fun doesn’t, because the souvenir shop is so enormous and well-designed that you’ll feel like you were in Diagon Alley shopping for a new wand or schoolbooks for the next year. You’ll be hard-pressed not to buy every replica wand for sale—Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Bellatrix Lestrange, Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom were only some of the wizards whose wands you could buy.
House scarves and beanies are available, too as well as Chocolate Frogs and Every Flavor Beans. I went crazy over the replica jewelry—I brought home a miniature golden egg necklace, which was amazing because it even included a mechanism which let me open the egg to reveal a milky egg-shaped stone underneath (alas, no singing mermaids!), and had to resist bringing home the Time-Turner as well.
I highly recommend going on a weekday so as to have more time perusing the exhibit at your leisure. Purchasing a ticket is easy, you can buy it in advance online or via Sistic outlets when you’re in Singapore. Buying a ticket on the actual day at the ArtScience Museum is fuss-free, too. Just make sure to arrive several minutes ahead of your intended time of tour. The exhibit will set you back around SG$30 (plus audio guide), we’re just not sure how much the damage to your wallet will be once you get to the souvenir shop.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition will run until Sept. 30. Visit http://www.artsciencemuseum.com.sg/harrypotter.