Exhibition Report:
Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Exhibition, Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Shadow Chaser

First off, Boston is pretty expensive when it comes to museums, and the Museum of Science (MOS) is no exception so shelling out $20 just to see the exhibit and not even go into the main halls, is a pretty penny for a poor college student like me.  They don’t even have college student discounts (how rude!).  Of course, I shelled out $40 for my roomie and best friend too, but she paid me back so I get an extra $20!  Yay!

But besides, that for $20 it was pretty much worth it just to see the U.S. Premiere of the Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition.  We waited in line, in the green murky lights of the plastic hollow pillars of the mines of Moria.  No photography was allowed and they had every security guard personnel in every corner that even a sign of a camera would make you be escorted out.  So, I apologize for the lack of pictures in this review. (Editor's note: All photos borrowed from the Science Museum website, see end of report for details.)

Afterwards, we were let in and the first sight that greeted us was the cave troll, roaring its life-sizedness down upon us.  A pretty scary sight, my eyes traveled over the cave troll to rest on what looked like elegant Elvish weaponry.  Moving closer, I saw that it was Haldir’s set of weaponry.  You can tell which muse of mine was happy ... ^_^  One thing my best friend and I forgot, was drool buckets.

The museum featured all sorts of elegant and pretty things from the movie trilogy.  Weaponry, armor, costumes, props, size-replicas, and a few interactive booths like motion-capture, resizing camera tricks, and facial composition.  There was even a chance to touch real chain mail from the Middle Ages and compare Kevlar helmets from the Boston Police Department to a replica helmet of the Middle Ages (btw, that sucker was HEAVY!).

We also got a chance to hold a replica of Gandalf’s sword Glamdring.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to swing it around, but it was fun holding that 5 lb. thing.  Some of the features I must point out were the costumes littered everywhere.

The had costumes for at least all of the characters featured in all three movies.  From the Fellowship (with only the hobbit-sized costumes) to the riders of Rohan, Theoden’s armor, Arwen’s dress and riding outfit, Galadriel’s outfit (to which I stared for at least 10 minutes and trying to catch all the drool), and many more.  Next to each of the outfits, they had small blurbs and other props related to the person or their kind.  For Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel, they each had their rings on display along with circlets, or objects that were aesthetically pleasing.  Steph, my best friend who was with me, and I just looked at the three Elven rings and wished we owned them.

But that wish was dashed when we saw a little dark corner that had orange lighting like it was fire of sorts.  We both knew what laid in that sectioned off corner ... the One Ring.

Making a mad dash to the room, we went inside and was surrounded by lighted fire and swirly lights that projected the ancient Elvish dark script of the one ring.  In the middle of the room, hanging by a string and in a tube full of gel, was the One Ring.  The booming voice of the forbidden words of the Morgul Tongue played itself over and over again, and Gandalf’s warning that the ring drew everyone to its power echoed in our heads — but it seemed like we were already drawn to it, because it was at least 15 minutes later that we stepped out, having forcibly dragged ourselves and our imaginary drool buckets out of there.

We decided to clear our heads by looking at a section of the wall that displayed all the armor that was featured in the movies.  All of them were to height accordance, and displayed the weaponry used in certain battles.  They ranged from Moria Orcs, to the Last Alliance battle armor, to the armor used by the different factions in the War of the Ring in Return of the King.

Afterwards, we decided to try out some of the interactive stuff and first went to the motion capture section.  They allowed you at least a minute of messing around with a pretty decent motion capture unit where you become the person who is trying to be motion captured.  You went through three choices, a Gondorian swordsman, an Elvish warrior with a bow and arrow (before me, no one was able to properly draw the bow because of the jerky quality), and last but not least, an Uruk Hai (to which I danced around in doing the Macarena).  It was fun, but the quality of the motion capture was not that of the movies, instead was more of a primitive form, but still fun to play with.

Afterwards, we went to the scaling section where they showed you how in Fellowship, was Gandalf a lot bigger than Frodo.  If you wanted to you can pay $5 to have your photo taken in that way, but Steph and I decided that we had shelled out too much money so we decided just to see what it looked like.

There was another interactive section where you were able to try your hand at digital textures for facial expressions, but the line was very long and so we decided to split up and head back to our favorite little parts to check things out one more time before leaving.  I headed to Haldir’s weaponry as Haldir is one of my favorite characters from Lord of the Rings (both movies and books) while Steph headed to the Legolas section (where they had his costume and weaponry).  I forgot to mention this, but for each of the props, they gave the list of materials each prop was made out of.

We headed out of the exhibition hall, sad but satisfied that we got our money’s worth at seeing all the beautiful props, but we were also creeped-out as before we exited, we decided to check out the Elvish boat which had a life-like Boromir in it.  In the Extended Edition DVDs they had said it was made out of latex and I wondered how did they pack the life-size, life-like-latexed Boromir up for shipping — it was kind of disturbing to see him laying there ...

Outside was a gift shop full of some merchandise, but we didn’t find anything that we wanted as we had the books and posters they were selling there.  So we left the Museum of Science full of memories and a sense that we saw only a fairly large piece of movie-making history.

A little note: The Museum of Science will be hosting a Star Wars exhibit next year in October 2005.  I am so going there!

All photos from The Science Museum, London, UK website: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/lordoftherings/default_flash.asp


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