Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibit, Field Museum, Chicago, IL
Sister Shen
Photographs by Wookiee

The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is currently hosting a fabulous exhibit on loan from the Smithsonian Institute. Mainly, this exhibit is not just a chance to look at props, but it examines the Star Wars trilogy (and Episode One, to a lesser extent) in terms of a classic myth, and had several posters along with walls (interspersed with concept drawings by McQuarrie et al.)

The first thing I noticed in the viewing area was a model of an Imperial Star Destroyer measuring approximately 6 feet in length. (Detail 1 | Detail 2) The detail on the models in this exhibit is tremendous, and this particular model features small blue lights in the thrusters. It would have been really neat if the lights had been powered up, but the model was breathtaking nevertheless.

There were also two production models of the Millenium Falcon present for viewing. One was fairly small, but the other was amazing -- not for its size, but again for the detail. This particular model had holes in the outer hull, as well as scorch marks (which were present on nearly every model). There was a snowspeeder, a T-65 X-Wing fighter (mocked as Red 3 -- Biggs' ship), three different TIE fighters (including Darth Vader's advanced prototype looking very much the worse for wear), and several tools. These models look as though they've just come off of the battlefield with chipped paint and carbon scorches.

The costumes on display are incredible. There are Imperial uniforms, Rebel fatigues, and even the Dark Lord of the Sith Himself. I'd never quite noticed the detail on the plate on Darth Vader's chest, but there is writing (in Aurebesh) below each of the switches. I also noticed on examining Leia's Bespin attire the intricate stitchwork on the white fabric. As often as I've watched Empire Strikes back, I'd never noticed this delicate design on the white linen.

There were two dioramas from Jabba's palace, including one with Sy Snootles' backup singers. This is where I had a bit of trouble with the exhibit. There was a tour going through behind us, and the chaperone (a Field Museum employee) noted when pointing out Lyn Me that she had fallen into the pit with "the monster." Anyone want to nitpick? I held my tongue, but just barely.

Many of the non-human characters of Star Wars were represented, including the Wampa Ice Creature, Chewbacca, and even Admiral Ackbar (who has very interesting mandibles, I must say). The scale of the character models is a bit unnerving. Even though we all expect wookiees to be tall, I still felt like a complete dwarf next to this costume.

There was even a small Episode I section, with Anakin's slave uniform (and racing helmet) ready for viewing, as well as a small bit on Vader as the corrupted hero and his ultimate redemption.

The most impressive part of the display? Seeing R2 and Threepio, more or less in the flesh. I almost expected R2 to pop out the razor and have a go at the display case he was in, and it was vaguely unnerving to have C3PO standing by silently. It wouldn't have surprised me to hear his voice abruptly cut in, "Stormtroopers? Here? I must tell the others!"

This exhibit is a must-see. The detail on the costumes and other props will surprise you, no matter how many times you've watched the films. However, a word to the wise: avoid the chaperones unless you feel like playing teacher.

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth will be at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois until January 7, 2001.

Other photographs:
Life-sized Speeder Bike, on Endor
Han Solo encased in Carbonite, Boba Fett, and Boussh
Leia's travel dress, Interrogation Droid, and Stormtrooper
Emperor's Guard
Darth Sidious's robe
Colorful characters at Jabba's
Anakin's podracer
Imperial Probe Droid
Cranky old Jedi master
Luke's lightsabre
Diorama of the Jabba's guard skiff
Tusken Raider, Jawa, and Ben Kenobi
Wicket W. Warwick

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