Die-hard Harry Potter fans may tragically undergo magic withdrawal syndrome this year, but apparently Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.’s offer to feature the props in the movies is quite a disappointment.

Before entering the Harry Potter Exhibition at ArtScience Museum. Photo by Tjokro Aminoto

From now until 30 September 2012, ArtScience Museum located in Marina Bay Sands complex, Singapore hosts the exhibition as a pioneer among its Asian neighbours.

The exhibition features the “artifacts in settings inspired by the film sets”, as if allowing the audience to go on “a journey through the famous wizard’s world and experience first-hand all the wonders of Hogwarts™ such as the Gryffindor™ common room, Hagrid’s hut, and the Great Hall.”

It also offers the opporunity to “pull a Mandrake from its pot, toss a Quaffle in the Quidditch™ area, and encounter centaurs, Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff and a giant Acromantula spider in the Forbidden Forest.”

Yet as a die-hard fan, the exhibition was disappointing.

Purchasing the tickets (SG$24 for adult tourists, SG$20 for Singaporeans), I was hoping to fill the gap JK Rowling has made by finishing the series. Yet as I walked through the relatively small exhibit, I was taken aback by the injustice that the exhibition has done to Harry Potter.

Writings on the floor right outside the gate of exhibition. Photo by Tjokro Aminoto

Entering the exhibition, we saw the Weasley’s flying car right above our head. We were then greeted by a crew member who was holding the sorting hat, and a couple of volunteers were chosen to see where they belong in the iconic Hogwart’s houses. After the mini introduction, rules, and regulation (no photography or videography of any sorts), we entered another room and watched some clips from the eight movies to refresh our memories on who Harry Potter is.

The Weasley’s flying car at Harry Potter Exhibition. Photo by Tjokro Aminoto

The next set: Hogwarts Express. We saw the train in black and red, complete with its smoked-ejecting chimney and familiar Harry Potter soundtrack. So far, the exhibition has succeeded to make the visitors excited.

We entered ‘Hogwarts’. There were some pictures hung on the wall, on which only one out of five was moving. There was the iconic fat lady who sang a high-tone pitch in order to break the glass, a scene that we watched in the third movie. There was Griffindor’s common room: Harry’s bunk with the real robes and casual clothes that he wears, as well as Ron’s.

Clothes were the main props of the exhibit – I still have no idea why they think the fans would be excited to see the real pink jacket that Hermione wore in the third movie. Or Cornelius Fudge’s clothes. Or Umbridge’s. Frankly, I wasn’t that interested to see the ‘real’ clothes that they wore.

Enter the next set, and we could see Madame Sprout’s garden, Professor Trelawney’s classroom complete with the Harry Potter’s tea cup having “the grim”, Gilderoy Lockhart’s motionless photographs and books, Professor Lupin’s Jack-in-the-box boggart, Professor Snape and Slughorn’s potions, and Umbridge’s pink office – complete with the cats on the plates that (disappointingly) did not move. Each set was of two meters length.

We were then able to pull out a motion-less Mandrake from its pot, followed by not-really-disturbing cry. There was a Quidditch-ish set on which we could toss a Quaffle. To the left there was a weird-looking Buckbeak not on its finest days.

Entering Hagrid’s hut, there was an oversized cloth that Hagrid wore, with the pot and a cracked dragon’s egg. In the next set we saw the not-so-real-looking Centaurus, Horntail’s head that looks really unreal, very fake-looking acromantula, and a baby thestral.

Next, we arrived at the dark forces section, where Dementor, which was pictured with white skeletons covered with black clothings, and the Death Angel in the graveyard (featured in the fourth movie) were present. There were not-quite-broken flying key (unlike the broken half-wing in the first movie), the Wizard Chess replica (which was quite cool), and a spot featuring all Voldemort’s horcruxes. Sadly, the horcruxes are not as grandeur as I’d like them to be.

We walked to the Great Hall, on which there were flying candles. There were the Triwizard cup, Dobby and Fawkes’s replicas, and the Godric Griffindor’s sword. We saw the Deathly Hallows – the Cloak of Invisibility, the Resurrection stone, and the Elder’s wand.

The eight movie posters at Harry Potter Exhibition. Photo by Tjokro Aminoto

As we entered the souvenir’s shop, I was taken aback by the price tags. It was a total ripoff as everything becomes triple the price from the original’s. Plus, the quality of the goods are half as good as what have been sold in Universal Studio Orlando.

There were a lot of TV clips featured from the eight movies, as well as each character’s clothes and wands. However, its lack of attention to details disappointed me.

Of course, my perception on this exhibition is influenced by the fact that I’m a die-hard fan of Harry Potter, and I just went to Universal Studio Orlando – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which features everything to the last detail. Picture the perfect Hogwarts castle replica, the moving Mandrake with its piercing cry, Moaning Myrtle crying in the public bathroom, Hogsmeade and butterbeer, the flawless moving pictures on Hogwarts wall, the perfect Gargoyle replica outside Dumbledore’s office, the Dementors which presence literally give you goosebumps for suddenly everything went really cold and scary, the moving and talking Sorting Hat, and…

That said, the exhibition was quite good considering the price and the experiences it offers. Yes, it falls way behind my expectation, but overall, I’ll give it a 6.5 out of 10 – not yet a failure.

For more information about the ticket prizes and and general visitor’s information, go to ArtScience Museum website. 

Still googling for more reviews? Read another review on the exhibition by Dejiki Nicholas.

Universal Studio Orlando Gallery (personal photos)