harry-potterHarry Potter! Ever since my 8-year-old discovered the books and movies about the popular boy wizard at the end of last year, all we hear about – morning, noon, and night – is Harry Potter!

Since I needed to travel with the kids to Massachusetts this weekend for some family business, I decided to surprise my children with tickets to Harry Potter: The Exhibition, currently on display at the Museum of Science in Boston. We brought along their 16-year-old cousin, who is a big-time fan and an expert on everything Harry. I must admit, my 11-year-old and I were less enthused about spending a morning with Harry Potter. But we were excited about doing something together and we went to the exhibition with open minds.

The show did not disappoint. First, the scenery and displays alone magnificently made you feel as if you were walking onto a Harry Potter set or, more impressively, onto the campus of Hogwart’s itself.  Museum staff in full costume, sporting the perfect accents, greeted guests and got things going. A short video show on multiple screens expertly showed clips of the characters and scenes from the movies. Though brief, younger children may find some of the images – particularly those from the later, more darker films – too scary. The video moves quickly but the images make an impact. This might be where you want to politely ask staff if you can skip through to the main exhibit.

The main exhibit takes you through the halls of Hogwart’s school, where you’ll see the costumes and props used in the actual movies. The detail gives you a tremendous appreciation of the artistry demonstrated by set designers, costume designers, and prop artists who take J.K. Rowling’s stories and bring them to life.  You get to visit Hagrid’s hut, see Severus Snape’s dark clothing, and get a close up look at the sport of Quidditch.

Of course, the exhibit exits into the special gift shop with lots of Harry memorabilia to buy, ranging from reasonably-priced every flavor beans (taste at your own risk!) to more expensive items like a carved chess set (around the $400-$500 range, if I remember correctly.) My son was thrilled to become the owner of his own Draco Malfoy wizard wand and a classy exhibition poster that portrays the marquee signs for all the movies to date (cost for both: about $15-$16 dollars.) My daughter bravely picked up every flavor beans (and tried to pawn off the ugly ones to the rest of us.)

I highly recommend the exhibition, even if you’re not the biggest Harry Potter fan. You can catch it in Boston at MOS through February 21, 2010 and then it moves onto Toronto and the Ontario Science Center from April 9-August 22, 2010.

A few tips:

  • Tickets were $24 each; however I opted to take out an MOS membership so I could purchase the Harry Potter tickets for$5 each. I practically paid off the membership on the first visit, and I receive reciprocal membership at many other zoos and museums we visit.
  • Go early. Tickets are sold on a staggered basis. We purchased our tickets for 10:45 entry on Sunday morning. When we exited the exhibition around 11:45 the crowds had arrived and the museum was packed.
  • Purchase an audio tour. For $4, you get to hear the experts give background about how they came up with the sets, costumes, and props. My kids weren’t interested but I found the tidbits added to the experience.