The Harry Potter Exhibition is great!

We went to the preview of the Harry Potter Exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Our resident Harry Potter nerd, Heidi Pett, spent much of the time gazing wide-eyed at the exhibits saying, “This is brilliant,” to anyone who would listen. Here’s her review:

It was with huge excitement that I headed along to the launch of the Harry Potter exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. I’m an unashamed Harry Potter dork – with a back catalogue of books, movies, Harry Potter parties, more-knowledgeable-than-thou arguments and a Deathly Hallows tattoo to prove it – so this exhibition (in the largest temporary exhibition space in the Southern Hemisphere) was, if you’ll allow me to get all Anchorman on you, ‘kind of a big deal’.

Featuring props and costumes from each of the movies in a walk-through space, beginning with a cavernous room containing the Hogwarts Express train and meandering through exhibits for each of the major characters, a space dedicated to the Dark Arts and finishing in the Great Hall, the exhibition appeals both to fanatics and those with a more casual interest. Though I think my companions’ enjoyment may partly have been in watching the reactions of the former. Not only does it provide the simple joy of pointing out, remembering and interacting with objects from the series, the exhibition provides an insight into the huge amount of work and attention to detail required to make the films. Items such as the Half Blood Prince’s potions textbook are exceptionally detailed and instilled a real appreciation for those who work behind the scenes.

Robes and casual clothes worn by the major characters throughout the films are featured throughout the exhibition along with relevant items and useful captions for those with a less than exhaustive knowledge of J.K. Rowling’s imagined world. A personal favourite was the helpful “These are the casual clothes worn by Hermione Granger when she punched Draco Malfoy in the face in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Never has a pink jumper been so brilliantly contextualised. Other costume highlights include dress robes and gowns from the Yule Ball and various pompously embellished outfits worn by the delightfully vain Gilderoy Lockhart in the second movie.

The exhibits are interactive, fascinating and appeal to all the senses. Hagrid’s hut smells like smoke and old jumpers, complete with pink umbrella and a table upon which rests a huge golden dragons egg which periodically shakes and cracks, while the forbidden forest (above) is wreathed in mist which smells of dark and damp and probably dead unicorns. The Great Hall is filled with warmth and complete with talking and moving portraits, and the section dedicated to Dark Arts, Death Eaters and Voldemort contains wanted posters and Bellatrix Lestrange’s dagger (used to kill everybody’s favourite house elf), set to a background of whispered threats which emanate from overhead.

Professor Sprout’s corner features her robes, various Herbology books and a planter full of Mandrakes which actually scream when you lift them. There are robes and posters of famous Quidditch teams as well as a display containing several quaffles, which elicit a satisfying ‘ding’ and roar from a distant crowd when thrown through the hoops.

Torn between enjoying myself, explaining the various exhibits to my less knowledgable (read: nerdy/obsessed) companions, and gleefully texting everybody I’ve ever met when I explored each new section, the exhibition appeals to both children and I-guess-technically-I’m-an-adult-now’s alike, much like J.K. Rowling’s original books. I plan to return, in costume.

Heidi in Hagrid’s chair. Excited.

The Harry Potter Exhibition is open seven days a week at The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and runs until 18th March 2012. Tickets are priced from $28 for adults and $19 for children (off peak). For full ticketing details, visit

The Powerhouse Museum located at 500 Harris St, Ultimo and is close to Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Central Station, Broadway bus station (Railway Square) and Paddy’s Markets Monorail Station.


Review by Heidi Pett.