With the 'Harry Potter' film franchise officially over this summer, there's only a few things a Potterhead can do to extend their fandom mania: a) head to Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter b) wait for the 'Deathly Hallows' Ultimate Edition DVDs c) beta-test Pottermore d) read fan fiction or e) visit 'Harry Potter: The Exhibition' in New York City. Given my family's love of the movies (and the fact we've already been to Universal's Wizarding World), we opted for "e" and journeyed to Manhattan for the traveling exhibit at Discovery Times Square.
What Is 'The Exhibition': Currently on its final stop in North America, the Exhibition is a traveling display of craftsman-made costumes, props, and other artifacts that were created specifically for the film series. You can see everything from Snape's signature black robes and Bellatrix LeStrange's Azkaban garb to Harry's Hogwarts trunk and Hagrid's hut decor. After its New York run ends on Sept. 5, the Exhibition heads Down Under to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
Who Should Go To It: Fans of the 'Harry Potter' movies. It's a must-see for diehard Potterheads, but even more casual fans will find the level of detail that went into the cinematic magical world amazing. But be warned, if you haven't finished watching or reading the series, there are some spoilers (one young girl wouldn't look at the Horcruxes display, because she was still reading 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince').
What's The Experience: When you first walk in, a Hufflepuff witch introduces the Sorting Hat and asks for a few volunteers to sort. My eldest was sorted into Ravenclaw, but most of the visitors were good ole Gryffindors like Harry Potter and his closest friends. After the Sorting Hat demonstration, everyone is ushered into a closed room with multiple screens that show highlights from the movies. A bit of fanfare makes you feel like you've taken the train to Hogwarts (not really, but the kids enjoyed it), and then a door opens and voila, you're surrounded by hundreds of familiar props and accessories.
What Are Some Highlights: For an extra $7, you should purchase the Audio Guide, which provides commentary from the various designers who created the costumes and set pieces. I loved that costume designer Jany Temime explained her inspiration for various robes and frocks (even Bellatrix's sexy black-and-lace Death Eater ensembles), and graphic designers Eduardo Lima and Mira Mina discussed how the Wizarding signs and books were based on hundreds of vintage periodicals and texts. My 9-year-old son's favorite areas were the Quidditch displays and the various magical creatures (from the Book of Monsters to a Buckbeak and centaur replica). My 6-year-old daughter couldn't get enough of the Yule Ball gowns (Cho's and Hermione's especially), and my three-year-old had to be literally pulled away from the screeching Mandrakes. I thought the best bit was the elaborate details on every single item, from the kitten plates in evil Professor Umbridge's all-pink office to the Canons' memorabilia in Ron's Gryffindor dorm.
If you can make it to New York City in the next two weeks, definitely visit 'Harry Potter: The Exhibition.' You will be astounded by the level of research and craftsmanship that went into the magic of Harry Potter movies, and you'll cap off a thrilling summer of Pottermania.