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What’s in Store at the Official Harry Potter Exhibition in Chicago

by ClaireApr 27, 2009

The Official Harry Potter Exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry will be opening its doors to the general public in just a few more days, and some lucky fans who have memberships to the museum were invited to preview what’s in store, including Lauren’s friend Jen, who was kind enough to send in a delightful write-up for all to enjoy. Click on Read more…

The way they have it set up, tickets are purchased for a certain time, you get in line with the people at your time and are let in by group every eight minutes or so. If you’re late you can go with the next group. There is no food, drink, bathrooms or photography. Once you leave the exhibit you can’t go back in without buying tickets for a new time, and they’re sold out for days to come. 

The Exhibit is in a tent outside the old main entrance to the museum. I was happy about this because I couldn’t think of where they’d put it inside and have proper space. I was going to die if it didn’t seem like there was enough to see! The new entrance to the museum is underground at the bottom of the parking garage, and the Ford Anglia is on display. This was the only thing I could take pictures of since photography inside is strictly forbidden. I was going to try for pics with the camera in my phone, but security was everywhere and I’d have died if I’d been thrown out before I saw everything there was to see!

When we first got there we were waiting with the people who were in the time slot before us and someone told us we weren’t starting for nine minutes and could walk around for a bit. I replied I’d waited in line for way longer than nine minutes for Harry Potter and I was happy to stand there. 
When we finally entered, the first thing we saw at the bottom of a long tent like hallway was a room with the Sorting Hat sitting on a stool in front of a stained glass window. There was a lovely British lad in charge at that point, and he asked for a volunteer to be sorted, and a little guy of about eight was chosen. He hoped for Gryffindor and was sorted into Hufflepuff. The voice of the Sorting Hat and what it said was straight from Sorcerer’s Stone, which was great. Then a girl of about 10 from my town of all places was chosen, and she was also sorted into Hufflepuff. Very cute and fun and everyone in the group was laughing and happy.

The doors to my right opened up and we were ushered into a roundish dark round room with lit up movie posters along one side. It reminded me of the room at the Department of Mysteries. I looked around to see where the doors were that opened into the Exhibit to make sure I was standing by them when music started and I dug into my purse to answer my phone, and realized that the movie posters had been replaced with clips from all the movies, and the first one was Ron and Harry meeting on the train, and Ron saying, “I’m Ron, Ron Weasley.” I did a huge SQUEE and Hubby shushed me and I elbowed him and the clips rolled through very quickly and I’d have to see it a few more times to take in everything.

We were ushered a bit too quickly for my liking past the Hogwarts Express and into the Exhibit itself. There were moving framed portraits on the walls and the Fat Lady trying to break a wine glass with her voice and failing and then we were in the Gryffindor common room.

There was a video playing on the left that seemed to be Hermione’s greatest hits, such as “Wingardium Levi-O-sa” and her grabbing Ron’s hand when they meet Buckbeak. After that is a display that includes the common room notice board, Hermione’s wand, the DA list, her time turner, and a Do It Yourself Broom Care kit, Hermione’s school uniform and the jeans and corduroy jacket.

Then I got distracted by my husband saying something and looked across the aisle and it was Ron and Harry’s beds from their dormitory and I was mentally flailing and trying to control the urge to bounce. First there’s Ron’s trunk, which holds “Flying with the Cannons”, his spell-o-taped wand, “Quidditch Teams of England and Ireland” the Howler from Molly, a Chudley Cannons shirt and a copy of Witch Weekly. As I scribbled the list down Hubby came over and whispered in my ear, “The security guards are giving you dirty looks.” I kept scribbling and whispered back, “I’m looking at Ron Weasley’s bed. You think I care?” He moved away and let me do my thing.

Ron’s bed has the lovely hand-made blanket on it!! It has the curtains!!! He told Harry to piss off while pulling that blanket over his shoulder!!! Next to his bed was his Hogwarts Uniform and on the table behind it some Honeyduke’s odds and ends, a crystal ball and Chudley fan stuff.

Between the beds is the Golden Egg from GoF on a stand. It’s pretty beaten up really, but Harry had held it and that’s was important, right?

On Harry’s table is just some broom polish. There’s also his Hogwarts uniform and in his trunk his wand, the Marauder’s Map, the Hogwart’s letter addressed to the Cupboard Under the Stairs, the love potion chocolates and the photo album from Hagrid.

Then there’s a video playing and it has Harry and Ron flying the car, then a rude woman moved in front of me and I decided to come back and watch it later, which I never did. *head desk*

Then there are Neville’s things, including his uniform, the Mimbulus Mimbletonia, a pruning kit, a copy of the Quibbler, a copy of the Profit with the flying Ford Anglia, a bottle of pumpkin juice and Neville’s wand. Next to Neville’s stuff is Ginny’s school uniform. I was shunted along by the crowd and didn’t really see much else of Ginny.

I noticed more wondering looks from security when I was leaving the common room. I guess no one warned them that avid fandom people would come along and take notes. You’d think they’d know that about us!

Then we moved into the classroom section, which started with Potions, and had the cauldron from HBP in which Slughorn brewed the Felix Felices, a box of Bezoars, Slughorn’s and Snape’s wands, copies of “Potion Making” and “Magical Drafts and Potions” books and Snape’s and Slughorn’s robes.

Lockhart’s class was next, and had his duelling robes, pictures of himself, his regular robes, a Cornish Pixie and a huge portrait of himself painting a portrait of himself. In a case were more pictures of himself, his wand and the questionnaire from his first lesson. In another case were copies of all his books.

Professor Lupin’s area had his wand, a copy of “Dark Forces – A Guide to Self-Protection”, his robes, the wardrobe the boggart came out of and the giant Jack in the Box.

In Umbridge’s office, the stones are painted pink, there is the detention desk with her special quill, her wand, that horridly perfect pink suit, her tea cup, a copy of “Defense Against the Dark Arts for Beginners”, pink drapes around the window and the kitty plates.

Trelawney’s room had her robes with all the shawls, a crystal ball, a copy of “Unfogging the Future”, her thick glasses and a tea cup with the leaves still in it. I looked for the grim but couldn’t see it.

The last professor’s area was Sprout’s, and it included her robes with the earmuffs from the mandrake lesson, and mandrakes that can be pulled up and they squeal! Some of them were really high pitched. We all pulled one up and had a laugh with the girl in charge who was encouraging everyone to come have a go.

Around the next corner was Buckbeak in the pumpkin patch with Harry, Hermione and Ron’s filthy clothes from the end of PoA. They’re so small!!! Then it’s into Hagrid’s Hut, which has Hagrid’s clothes which are HUGE, cages hanging from the ceiling, Norbert’s Egg hatching on the table, and his chair that you’re welcome to sit in it. It’s very large and equally uncomfortable. In a case are his pink umbrella, a copy of “The Monster Book of Monsters” and the lantern he carries when he gets the first years from the Hogwarts Express.

Then it’s a very cute Quidditch area, which starts with Draco, Cedric and Oliver Wood’s robes, a game where you can throw Quaffles through hoops (it’s harder than I thought), the World Cup, Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Draco’s Nimbus 2001 a Snitch and other Quidditch equipment. Then in a line it’s Madam Hooch’s robes, the Irish National Team robes, then Harry, Victor and Ron’s robes.

Next it’s into the forbidden forest, and they have centaurs, a baby thestral, Aragog, who’s just scary as hell, and the head of a Hungarian Horntail.

In the next room there’s a display with a giant pawn and rook from Sorcerer’s Stone (I was sad there was no knight), the Sorcerer’s Stone, and one of the flying keys. Next to that are Harry’s clothes from when he fought Quirrel/Voldemort for the Stone, a petrified Colin Creevey, Riddle’s Diary with the basilisk fang in it, Tom Riddle’s uniform from CoS, along with the scary Angel of Death statue that trapped Harry in GoF.

Then there’s the “Wanted” posters of the escaped Death Eaters, Death Eater’s robes, Voldemort’s wand and robes.

Along the opposite wall are Draco and Lucius Malfoy’s robes, a dementor coming out of the wall, Kreacher, a uniform from the prison, and Bellatrix’s tatty robes. The lighting of the “dark” area is blue and moody and I thought well done.

Down another hallway are the framed “Decrees of Education”, the Bloody Baron’s robes and the doors to the Great Hall.

The Great Hall’s not nearly as big I was hoping, but there are space restraints to be considered. In the middle of the hall is a long table with prop foods and desserts, and table settings. To the right are Fudge’s and Percy’s robes, O.W.L.s and memos from the Ministry shaped into planes. The next case has items from Honeydukes, Skiving Snackboxes, a Quidditch Board game and all sorts of other stuff from Hogsmeade.

In the corner are Fred and George’s robes and a video of scenes from the Great Hall. Then there’s Fawkes, then where the teacher’s table should be are McGonagall’s robes from the Yule Ball, Dumbledore’s robes from Chamber of Secrets, Dobby kind of hiding behind them and a case with Dumbledore and McGonagall’s wands.

Next are Sirius and Tonk’s robes. On the other side of the hall is the Tri-Wizard Cup, Rita Skeeter’s quill and notebooks and a Goblet of Fire entry slip. Then it’s Cho and Cedric’s robes from the Yule Ball, then Harry and Ron’s in the middle of the display, then Victor’s and Hermione’s lavender dress. 

The last was the casket that held the Goblet of Fire and Fleur, Victor and Cedric’s uniforms.

Then it’s out through the door at the other end, and down a hall with portraits applauding, then you’re in the gift shop, which I found way too small as it doesn’t allow for proper browsing!

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