How great is my love? Well I’ll tell you...
I went with my family to see the very popular Harry Potter exhibition at the Boston Museum of Science, during a holiday week, just so I could report back here.
Let me repeat that: Harry Potter. Boston Museum of Science. During a busy holiday week. With the rest of the inhabitants of the entire east coast of the United States of America and probably parts of Canada, too.
That’s how much I love you.
Everyone knows you should never, and I mean NEVER, go to the Boston Museum of Science on a vacation week... Everyone except for me, my family, and the rest of the gazillion people who were there on Tuesday. This was a trip that was suggested by my in-laws as something to do while my husband’s sister and her family visited from the midwest and I will admit that at the time it seemed like an intriguing idea. That was, until the reality of the situation hit me. And then tickets weren’t purchased ahead of time. And did I mention it was a vacation week?
Let me back up a bit.
The temporary exhibit, housed in the Nichols Gallery, showcases 200 original pieces from the movies, including Hermione’s Yule Ball gown, Harry’s glasses, a “life-size” Buckbeak and a Dementor (two of my favorites from the exhibit). What any of this has to do with science, I have no idea, but for the die hard Potter fans it is an interesting sight to behold. The costumes are exquisite (and also proving once again that everyone in the movies is about 5 feet tall), the props really do give you a peak into what it’s like to be on a film set, and you get to see some clothes that Robert Pattinson wore in his role as Cedric Diggory. If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I’m not. Nope, not me.
If you have little ones with only a casual interest in all things Harry Potter prepare for a lot of “Don’t touch that’s” and “Yes, we’re almost done’s”. This is not an interactive exhibit. In the beginning there is a chance for audience members who are lucky enough to get picked to get to wear the Sorting Hat and that part is fun.
(Everyone wanted to be in Gryffindor. I was waiting for one brave kid to say Slytherin was their favorite house but, no.)
There is also a chance to try your hand at Quidditch, minus the brooms of course, by tossing a Quaffle, and you can pull a Mandrake and hear it scream - my four year old was less than thrilled by that, preferring to watch her older cousins at a safe distance - but that was about it. It was far too busy to try to sit in Hagrid’s oversized chair. When we went it was too busy to do much of anything except peer over people’s shoulders.
I don’t want to be a downer on the whole thing, however. I’m sure under the right circumstances (i.e. Not on a vacation week) the exhibit is very entertaining, if not very scientific. So let me tell you what we did wrong so that you may learn from our mistakes.
First, if you can, leave the littlest ones at home. If you can’t, plan on checking your stroller. It states outside the exhibit hall that bulky strollers are prohibited so I thought it would be fine to bring my 18 month old daughter in our very portable Maclaren stroller. It wasn’t. It was extremely difficult to maneuver around the huge crowds with even the smallest stroller. We were bumped and almost walked into too many times to count. One young woman actually walked over the stroller containing my daughter and very nearly smacked her in the head with her oversized handbag. That woman is very lucky I didn’t hit her with a Quaffle. An infant or toddler in a backpack or front carrier or even a sling would fare better.
Second, buy your tickets in advance. I can't state that enough. We didn’t purchase far enough in advance and our plans for the day were shot. Entry times are scheduled so you can’t purchase a ticket and walk in when you want, make sure you plan on that too.
Tickets are available online or by calling 617-723-2500.
Third, if you’re a nonmember plan for an expensive day. Tickets for the exhibition are $26 for adults, $24 for seniors, $23 for children. If you are a member of the Boston Museum of Science it’s $5 for each person. If you live close enough to the museum it might make sense to buy a year’s membership - a Basic 5 membership is $105 and admits up to 5 people - and it will pay for itself if you go to the museum a second time. This DOES NOT, however, guarantee you a ticket for the Harry Potter exhibit. We had memberships and that softened the blow of some of our party not being able to go through the exhibit because we didn’t purchase our tickets in advance.
There is an extra audio tour that you can purchase separately but we elected not to do that. It is recommended to reserve this in advance because players are limited.Fourth, as mentioned, this exhibit is not really interactive so the smallest Harry Potter fans might be a bit bored, or scared, or both. My sister in law and her ten year old son loved it because there was much to see. To borrow her words, it really was more of an art exhibit than anything else. Her six year old son had more fun with the Quaffle and running away through the crowds with my four year old. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful security guard for herding them back to me.
There were darkened parts of the exhibition hall so those afraid of the dark will be burying their heads in the closest parental shoulder.Fifth, plan on walking the Gift Store Gauntlet of Doom. The winding path of the exhibit will eventually dump you out into the gift store, or as one man behind us put it, Ye Olde Gift Shoppe of Overpriced Crappe (Olde English makes everything sound prettier). We were lucky enough to escape with just a $13 wand (with three authentic movie sounds!) and a $4 chocolate frog the size of a large matchbook.
Sixth and finally, DON’T GO ON A VACATION WEEK OR A WEEKEND IF YOU CAN AVOID IT. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this any further.
Harry Potter - the Exhibition is worth the visit and since Boston will be the only New England stop on the tour it’s worth seeing as soon as possible - it packs up and heads for places unknown (Okay, Toronto, Canada) on February 21, 2010. Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a magical time.