Last Monday I went to the Harry Potter Exhibition with my dad and my sister at the Powerhouse Museum.
It seemed like forever since I’ve gone to the Powerhouse. When I was a kid, dad used to take us into the city often enough, but we went to the Australian Museum more than the Powerhouse.
There was no crowd in front of the museum (unlike last time) and the entrance was pretty clear, too. An employee stood ready to direct people. “Harry Potter Exhibition, or general admission?”
“Both, I think,” said dad without hesitation.
We went to the counter and he paid for our tickets, keeping them on him and leading us in. The Harry Potter Exhibition was immediately apparent; ahead to the left was a big sign that informed me thus, and there was a small Ford Anglia hanging over our heads. I examined the licence plate and thought about geeks who probably had it memorised.
We had about an hour and a half until the next time we could enter the exhibition. So we spent it exploring the rest of the museum. We went through the space exhibit, looked around at cyberworld, saw the planes trains and automobiles room, and enjoyed the Lost In Space life sized robot having looked for it in the miniature robots.
We must have circled those places around a few times looking for different places, seeing new exhibits along the way (Lace exhibit, Ecology exhibit…) When we returned to the line for Harry Potter, it was stretching back into the Engineering exhibit. The employees soon had to fix that, us in the rear.
“We’re going to be in this line forever…” I commented.
Though I was agreed with, it soon turned out that the line was moving faster than expected, which I also pointed out. “Yeah, it’s actually going pretty fast,” agreed dad.
“What do you know? I didn’t notice the Ford Anglia there before…” said dad further ahead, to which Kristi agreed. “Are you kidding?” I said, I noticed it right after we came in!” The teasing was unnecessary.
Pretty soon afterwards, we were across the front hall to the second half of the queue, where it seemed the action was.
The queue continued on through a photo studio for each group together could get a green screen photo taken of them in the Great Hall. The funny part was that the green screen was framed like those Hogwarts portraits.
As we got closer, both Kristi and dad decided they wanted to do an awkward family photo. We started to mimic how we might do the photos if we did, but truth was that I was nervous. Nobody else was doing awkward photos, and as the group in front of us were doing the photo and the photographer kept saying, “smile!” I wondered if we should.
We did anyway, or at least the other two did. I thought of doing that huge sneeze I had mimicked in the line, but as we got in the front of the camera, dad had me in a headlock, and I couldn’t see what the others were doing. I certainly was too nervous to do anything but smile.
As we moved away, the other two were too excited telling each other what faces they pulled. But then they turned to me. “What face did you pull, Ashley?” asked my sister.
“Uh…” Cue confused awkward explanation, that ended simply in “I panicked.” It was true. I felt no better about the confusion, though.
The line then bended toward the back of the room, where an exhibition notice and eight Harry Potter posters circled around toward the entrance. We were herded into the back of a group to be the next through those doors. We had to wait a few minutes; there was a clock there marked 12:52. We went in at 12:56.
We were lead into a room. A majority of the people (children, mostly) sat around on the floor, while the rest of us stood at the edges. There was a flat stage in front of us, with a stool holding a sorting hat.
The witch who had introduced us into the exhibition walked out in front of us, decked out fully in black robes. She said that before we could go on to the exhibition, we had to get sorted. “I will need a volunteer,” she told us.
An enthusiastic little girl quickly raised her hand, and got chosen. The witch asked a few questions of her first — what is your name? Where are you from? — most notably, though, “What house do you think you should go in?”
“Gryffindor,” she said without compromise. And so she she sorted to.
The next person who got chosen was closer to us, and I heard him wonder out loud, “I wonder what house I’ll get sorted into.”
He was called up. He was soon announced to be from South Australia (“Now I know that to be a magical place,” said the witch), to which we applauded. His answer to the crucial question: a shrug. “I dunno.”
So the witch took a guess. “I think you’re a Hufflepuff,” she said, after a short reasoning over how she thought he was rather mindful and caring of people. And so he was proved to be.
One more person. I spotted the most rigorous indicators; a parent sitting with her children pointing in front of her at a child I couldn’t see. I guessed the kid was pretty young.
When she stood up, I realised I was wrong. She was about as tall as the first girl, skinny with glasses and smooth brown hair. She sat upon the stool, and the witch guessed she was Ravenclaw. I would be happy with that; had to be a Ravenclaw somewhere in here, and besides, they couldn’t all be Gryffindors, right?
We were moved into the next room. This time we crowded around eight screens showing the Harry Potter posters. “Stay away from that curtain; it may be dangerous,” I heard the witch tell someone, and observed the presence of a wall barrier (that could be called a curtain).
We watched a presentation of Harry Potter on the screens. They showed different shots on different screens, all tying in to the same film. At the end of the film, the wall was gone, and Hogsmeade station at night filled our sight, and me with excitement. I wanted to bound forward, if not for the crowd.
“First years, this way,” said one of the new employees that had suddenly apparated to the scene. The crowd surged forward, and I walked happily into the mist of the artificial night, beaming with the fantasy that this would be how it was if I went to Hogwarts.
Losing my family in the crowd, I squeezed past a few people and caught up to Kristi. Walking alongside her, I heard them say, “Come on. We don’t care for dilliers and dalliers at Hogwarts.”
“I’m not dilly-dallying,” I told Kristi.
“I know, right? I pushed past a bunch of old people.”
“Me too,” I said. I had done to catch up with her.
Soon enough, though, we were walking through an archway and into a main hall, with portraits on the right, with the occasional one moving on screens.
Suddenly, there they were. Exhibits showing wands, outfits, settings.
There was Snape’s robes there, and his wand. While I was looking at the boys’ dormitories exhibit, I was told of it and burst through the crowd to the opposite side of the hall to see it. And of course, there were other things there; in Snape’s case, potions books, and in the set up of the Potions exhibit, ingredients surrounding Snape.
There was also a Boggart wardrobe (and a model of the Jack-in-the-box boggart), somewhere before the mandrakes. I let myself look at my reflection in it, so that I could remember fondly that I did whenever I watch the third movie and see it, as an excuse to see myself at Hogwarts.
Further down the hall were potted Mandrakes, four in a line. There was a sign at first I assumed ‘Don’t touch’ since that was all I’d seen so far. But on closer inspection, it was ‘Please Lift’. I smiled and lifted it, and it gave it’s mandrake’s cry. The next one down was a Madam Sprout exhibit.
After seeing every exhibit in that hall, there was an entrance like the Quidditch cup tent in the fourth movie. When we walked in, it was all Quidditch. A particular favourite of mine there was Quidditch ring game, where you grab the Quaffles down the front of the little booth, and throw it through the rings.
The kids in front of us at the time were crap, throwing too far below or between the rings. I waited slightly impatiently for my turn, so I could show them how it was done. The Quaffles were rather more soft than I imagined from seeing them all those years in the movies and in videos of muggles playing Quidditch in real life.
I missed the first ring, so I aimed for the one closer to me next instead of the one in the middle. In the end, I got at least one through all three hoops without moving from the spot on the right. I was the last of the three of us left at the game.
Also in the Quidditch tent was an exhibit of Quidditch World Cup robes, and various Quidditch trophies. There was also a glass case with a Nimbus 2000 and 2001 in it (I prefer 2001; Kristi prefers 2000), that also contained various doohickeys that I could only guess were used to view the World Cup in the fourth movie.
On the right next was Hagrid’s Hut. Unlike the last room, this one had another way around, but I wanted to see inside Hagrid’s Hut, I wanted to see how big everything was. There was a model of his clothes in there, and I was surprised by their size.
I remember going to a Lord of the Rings exhibition (though it was far less awesome, if interesting) and learning that, among others, the hobbits were played normal size and then shrunk by CGI. I had assumed that’s what Hagrid did. Guess not.
They also had Hagrid’s chair in that small room, among the remainder of his oversized things. I sat in it then, not comfortable enough, slid to the back. It was big enough that my feet, even as a grown up woman, poked out only a little way at the end. It was so comfortable, but I expressed to Kristi at the time, “that might just be because my feet hurt.”
She insisted on a turn. She enjoyed the seat so much, she refused to get up and let me back in. But she suggested that we could probably both fit in the chair side by side. I tried; but my left side stuck too far out to be considered in the seat.
I was going to sit back in the seat, but as soon as I saw she was up, I went towards the seat only to find the Hufflepuff boy from before was sitting in it. And he seemed like he had no intention of moving. Damn.
After a last sweep of the hut, making sure I’d seen everything I wanted to, and stepped out and saw the exhibit I would have seen if I had gone around. It contained two centaurs in the dark of the Forbidden Forest, and the Hungarian Horntail sticking its head fiercely from its cage.
Soon Kristi came to join me, commenting the centaurs looked creepy, and that she would be freaked out if she ever came across them in real life. “I respect you Mr. Centaur…” She also said that the far one seemed to have a blanket over its butt. I spotted it after a confused moment.
We soon moved across to see Aragog and a baby Thestral (“Look, I can see a thestral!” I said.) Soon after, we moved into the Forbidden Forest section. There was another set of Harry and Hermione’s clothes there, together with a model of Buckbeak. But to be honest, I don’t remember too much else from there.
There was another archway. On the side, there was a sign titled, “The Dark Forces”. I started reading it in a mock dramatic voices, and seeing as Kristi was listening to me read it (and there was another random between us that seemed to be watching), I continued to the end. Then we both continued into the Dark Forces room.
There was a model of a dememtor, outfits of Lucius and Draco from the second film (Draco was so small!), Azkaban prison outfits including one for Bellatrix, Wanted posters for Bella, Fenrir Greyback and the Carrows, five of the horcruxes and a model of Kreacher.
Turn the corner, and suddenly you find yourself at the entrance of the Great Hall. At first, I thought it was just an Umbridge thing up ahead, but it was really just a bunch of her silly decrees still hanging from her days as High Inquisitor. We read a couple. I read more.
I remember following Kristi to the end of the hall to see something (before entering the Hall) but I don’t remember what. Then we entered…
And it was all done up in the Yule Ball. Kristi gushed, confessing her love for the Yule Ball, and we went straight over to see the Yule Ball outfits, and the Triwizard Cup (which surprised me by its colour), before moving around the room to gaze at the plastic Yule Ball feast, wizard candy (such as Exploding Bon Bons and Honeydukes products of that sort), then over to Skiving Snackboxes (alongside models of Fred and George, dressed in Gryffindor robes) and most surprisingly, a Quidditch board game.
Down from the board game were outfits for Sirius Black and for Tonks (“I loved Sirius. I was so sad when he died,” said Kristi) along with their wands (Tonks’ was weird, like an animal horn…)
Down from that were two of Dumbledore’s robes (one normal attire, one Yule Ball dress) and one of McGonagall’s. There was also a model of Fawkes and Gryffindor’s sword in a glass case along the wall, next to the earlier Yule Ball outfits. (Damn was Emma small! You should’ve seen that waist! She was barely bigger than as a child.)
There was a small hall after that, with more Hogwarts portraits, two which were applauding, and on the left, the Bloody Baron’s outfit. I observed the blood last of all, seeing the extent it all and remembering he killed himself over the Grey Lady. Still, it reminded me a stupid theory I had heard once regarding the Baron that it was unicorn’s blood.
Hello; he’s a ghost! Of course the blood looks silver! All I could think in regards to those poor misguided individuals was: Ha! Suck it!
On retrospective, I was disappointed on the lack of Remus Lupin, The Grey Lady and Nearly Headless Nick outfits, but besides that, I was pretty satisfied.
At the end of the hall was Dad, having run ahead ages ago in front of me and Kristi, sitting in the only chair in a box of a room between the end of the exhibit and the gift shop, which was the point of no return if you were still interested in seeing the exhibits.
We wandered in together. Having seen so many people earlier with House themed scarves walking around the museum, I was eager to run ahead to get a Ravenclaw one for myself. But after years of wanting a Ravenclaw tie, I passed one up for fear of judgement, the same thing that almost stopped me from getting a wand; I chose Hermione’s.
I’m pretty satisfied after it all though, in general.