There is more to the “Harry Potter” films than just enchanting spells and the battle between good and evil. Those who are extremely fond of J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard series have certainly wondered how it feels to attend Hogwarts, the school of magic, where candles float and paintings talk. What’s it like to hang out at Hagrid’s hut or take a stroll through the forbidden Dark Forest?
When the first Harry Potter movie came out in 2001, the books’ world of wizardry magically came to life. Even though the series has since finished, the spell still lingers for some non-magical muggles. For those who want to keep the magic alive, “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” has finally arrived in Singapore.
The exhibition kicked off in Chicago in 2009 and since then Potter fans around the world from Toronto to Sydney have had the chance to get closer to their fictional hero.
The traveling exhibition is now making its first stop in Asia at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
Friday night’s opening ceremony was attended by James and Oliver Phelps, the twin brothers who played the mischievous pair Fred and George Weasley.
The exhibition was put together by Global Experience Specialists. The company has been working with film producers Warner Bros. to showcase original movie memorabilia long before the “Harry Potter” exhibit. According to GES CEO Eddie Newquist, the idea to create the exhibition came about during the making of the fifth film installment.
“We went through 10 years of movie props and artifacts,” Newquist said. “I think our criteria was to choose things that fans would like to see the most.”
These include Harry’s wand, his glasses and invitation to Hogwarts, as well as Hermione’s dress for the Yule Ball. The exhibition is all-encompassing with impressive, large-scale features such as whole sets of the Hogwarts Great Hall, which includes four long tables featured in the film.
“Then we developed the classroom and the Quidditch area, just to make sure fans have a good reaction,” he said.
The ArtScience Museum is by far the largest venue to host the “Harry Potter” exhibition, Newquist said. For the team, it allowed them to create a more surreal exhibit. Everything is enhanced from the Hogwarts express to the school’s common room to the Dark Forest.
Additionally, Singapore visitors will be the first to see the production model for Voldemort’s serpent, Nagini.
Upon arrival, visitors proceed to a dark room where Potter fans get the chance to be assigned to one of Hogwarts four houses by the Sorting Hat. Be ready to volunteer, as only two lucky visitors are allowed to sit on the knobby wooden chair and be sorted.
After the sorting ceremony, the first stop in Harry’s world is at the Hogwarts Express, where a lady in a black robe and a lantern calls out “Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to Hogwarts!”
Right at the corner, there is a wanted poster for Sirius Black, the wizard framed for 12 deaths, pinned to a wooden board. As the Hogwarts Express is unfortunately not a ride, you continue to the common room of Gryffindor, one of the four houses where student wizards could be sorted. In the common room, visitors can see all of the moving paintings, including the fat lady who attempts to break a glass with her high-pitched voice.
In Harry’s room is the Marauder’s Map, a magical guide to Hogwarts that can detect everyone at the school — a useful tool that Harry often used to sneak out during the night. There are also posters of Chudley Cannons, Ron’s favorite Quidditch team, on the walls on his side of the room. The golden egg, as seen in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” is also displayed in the common room.
The exhibit includes Hogwarts classroom props including the Mandrake, the crying plant from the herbology course, potions books and a replica of Professor McGonagall’s transfiguration classroom. Fans can also see the Jack-in-the-box and cupboard that Professor Lupin used to teach spells in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” and a Gilderoy Lockhart painting, accompanied by a production model of a blue pixie, as seen in the “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
The Quidditch pitch is a corner where visitors can pretend to be a chaser and throw snitches into three small hoops. They not only can try on the uniform of the Hogwarts house teams, but can also wear the national robes of the Bulgarian and Irish teams. There are also posters of the Quidditch World Cup in some corners of the room, making it a festive area for the wizard sport’s fans.
The most extraordinary part of the exhibition is the Forbidden Forest, where you feel a strange darkness. Nature scents give this part of the exhibit a dark outdoorsy feel. Here, visitors can see a Death Eater’s outfit, as well as the production model for Kreacher, the cunning house elf. Remember to walk around slowly as there are spots in the forest where visitors can hear the whispering voice of evil wizard Voldemort. Also, try to find the hippogriff Buckbeak, who is tied near a pumpkin patch, just like in the scene from the “Prisoners of Azkaban.”
Hagrid’s hut gives a great idea of how tall the half-giant creature really is. Visitors can sit on Hagrid’s sofa just long enough to see the dragon’s egg on the table shaking. The last stop is the Great Hall, where fans can see not only floating candles on the ceiling but also all the sweet treats that are on the tables for Hogwarts students.
The Deathly Hallows is also a must-visit. GES has put the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Invisibility Cloak, all from the seventh film, in the same display box in this part of the exhibit.
The gift shop, dubbed as “Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions,” sells everything from Harry’s wand, glasses and broomstick, to stickers, scarves, hats, T-shirts and hoodies. The most affordable items in the shop are the chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. On the other end of the spectrum, the Deathly Hallow necklace, or even the Horcrux, will set fans back at least S$100 ($78).
To avoid the long queues seen at previous exhibitions, museum executive director Nick Dixon suggests visitors buy their tickets via the museum’s website. Visitors who buy tickets online can go straight to the reception desk, skipping the line.
‘Harry Potter: The Exhibition’
ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’
Until Sept. 30
Ticketing portal: entertainment.marinabaysands.com
Standard full price tickets: Adult: S$24 Senior: S$21 Child: S$14
Ticket prices for Singapore residents: Adult: S$20 Senior: S$18 Child: S$13