The following is a review by my husband Jason (aka 425Dad). Questions about the exhibit? Just leave a comment and Jason will be happy to answer them! ~Megan
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the EMP’s latest exhibit, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, before the public opening. Located near the south entrance of the EMP, you gain access through an over-sized door not unlike one you might find in a fantastic world set in a Tolkien novella. In fact, one of the first things you’ll see secured safely behind glass is the original manuscript pages from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings with handwritten edits. It was amazing to see the origins of the most beloved fantasy tale ever told. Unfortunately I couldn’t snap pictures, but believe me this is worth the price of admission alone.
Our gracious guide Jasen Emmons, EMP’s Director of Curatorial Affairs, walked us through the fantastically designed interiors of the exhibit. The attention to detail was remarkable. From the dragon scaled tree of life to the dark and decrepit dungeon, the beautifully detailed interiors really take you to another world. I was impressed. This is Disney-level art direction. One of the first attractions you’ll come to is The Art of Role Playing. Here you’ll learn about the 20 different archetypes that represent the various forms of fantasy. Children and adults both interact with an intuitive touch screen, answering questions about themselves to see what kind of character they are. Of course, I was told I’d make a fine Jester. Perhaps I should have taken the questions more seriously.
The next area led me to the dungeon where an incredibly detailed dragon awaits, ready to be awakened. When children interact with the tail hanging invitingly outside the bars of the dungeon, the dragon comes to life – no doubt scaring the little ones as they try to escape the life-sized animatronic beast.
The next area contained costumes from some of my favorite fantasy films growing up. You’ll bare witness to costumes from The Wizard of Oz’s cowardly lion, the Goblin King costume worn by David Bowie in the Labyrinth, and the wedding gown worn by Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride. I was amazed the curator of the exhibit was able to obtain these great finds. And yes, the six fingered glove worn by the man in black is also on display. How cool is that?
Another great interactive experience is being able to create your own fantasy maps. You can select a pirate, fantasy, or anime styled map. It was fun selecting different landmarks such as trees, mountains, and bodies of water and positioning them wherever I pleased. The illustrations were highly detailed and truly captured the different styles. Once I was happy with my creation, I could save it and purchase an actual print in the gift shop. Something cool I could take home and hang on my wall. Awesome!
There are so many other cool things to see at this exhibit, I’d hate to spoil it all for you. I can assure you that if you’re a fan of The Game of Thrones, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth or Jim Henson you’ll surely find things to love at the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit.
The exhibit is now open to the public. Learn more and purchase your ticket at empmuseum.org