Lord Of The Rings at the Museum of Science
After a successful run at the Science Museum of London, The Lord Of The Rings exhibition gallery has moved across the pond to the Boston Museum of Science. Riding the coattails of Peter Jackson’s popular trilogy, the exhibit showcases props, costumes, and technology from all three movies.
The entrance to the gallery is designed to look like the Mines of Moria from The Fellowship Of The Ring, the gigantic door towering over visitors. Indeed, the first thing guests come upon is a life-size version of the cave troll from Fellowship Of The Ring, charging forward mid-snarl and flanked by a goblin warrior.
The bulk of the exhibit is presented museum style, with cases devoted to each of the main characters. By far the most crowded area when we were there was the Aragorn display, which houses both the broken shards and Narsil (the sword with which Isildur slew Sauron) and the re-forged version (Anduril) that Viggo Mortensen wields in Return Of The King. Upon seeing his ranger outfit, my only thought was that Mortensen must be much shorter than he looks on-screen.
Similar areas were devoted to Arwen, Galadriel, Gandalf, and Saruman. Complementing the costumes and the trinkets were video presentations specific to each character, though these seem to have been taken wholesale from the extended edition DVDs, so avid Rings fans won’t be seeing anything they haven’t already. The hobbit and dwarf outfits are presented to scale and, thus, are not actual props from the film. Various maquettes, production artwork, and a gallery of armor and weapons complete the exhibit.
As a huge fan of the films, I was supremely disappointed with the offerings. While I enjoyed seeing the props and costumes, there really just wasn’t that much there. Each area is built to guide you through via the videos that accompany each booth, but those who’ve already seen these behind-the-scenes featurettes will move past much more quickly.
Three interactive areas complement the showcase pieces. A motion capture station allows guests to experiment with a foam sword or bow and watch their computer-generated counterpart, decked out in full armor, do the same thing on-screen. Visitors can also visit a rendering station to have their face scanned in and replicated as a stone statue. Lastly, pairs can line up for a forced-perspective picture, with one person appearing small and one large via the two-camera technique used in the films. These stations are geared clearly toward the pre-teen and younger set. My wife and I were the only adults without kids even trying out any of them.
The biggest disappointment, however, came with the centerpiece of the exhibit, The One Ring. Given a room all its own, the ring was suspended behind glass with fishing wire and looked as if it were made of cheap plastic. In fact, much of the problem with the exhibit lies in the fact that seeing physical elements from the films up close chips away significantly at the movie magic these items seem to possess on-screen.
Those expecting to be blown away will be undoubtedly disappointed. Nonetheless, Rings fans of all ages should go for the experience, but adults will likely feel just a little bit ripped off. The under 13 set will have a good time, though, and the presentation makes for a good introduction to enjoying museums in general. We made it through the entire exhibit in just under 30 minutes, including the gift shop, which, unfortunately, didn’t contain anything that can’t be readily purchased on eBay.
For most, the exhibit will be the only opportunity to see this collections of props and costumes. The creators definitely had the right idea in giving fans of the trilogy this chance to see so many elements from the movies up close; the end result just doesn’t seem to live up to the expectation. So, while I cannot give it an unqualified recommendation, I can say that there are many worse ways to spend your time, at least until the Return Of The King extended edition DVDs come out in November.
The exhibition is scheduled to run through October 24 at the Museum of Science.