The Harry Potter Exhibition – nearly as magical as Hogwarts itself

The Harry Potter Exhibition in Babelsberg is for all those who want to experience the ideas behind the films, but do not have the money to go to London.

I belong to a generation which grew up with J. K. Rowling’s marvellous Harry Potter books. After finishing the books, fans could continue living in the magic world, as there were the Harry Potter films, additional fairy tales, the website Pottermore and then the prequels, set before Harry was even born. For all those who still can’t get enough of it and who enjoyed the films nearly as much as the books, the Harry Potter Exhibition at the film park Babelsberg offers another visit to the wizard world. It provides a selection of props and costumes which were used in the films to let visitors understand how much work and love was put into every little detail and all the big creatures.

When I arrived at the exhibition, I worried a little bit as I had to pay additionally to the ticket price (30-60 €) and the audio guide (6 €) circa 5 € for the car park. I was sure I was going to have paid too much for something that would disappoint me in the end. In the queue, I waited quite a while with dressed-up children and their parents, the children just wearing random witch costumes that weren’t even Hogwarts-related. My concerns grew as I was now half-certain that the exhibition wasn’t created for adults but rather for families. Once in the building, it didn’t get better. It was extremely full and disorganised, there was a ridiculous green screen to take pictures in front of which would be edited into a Hogwarts background later. When we finally started, the guides performed the little speeches that they had learned by heart. After a terrible Hogwarts train simulation, I was convinced that the rest of the exhibition would be as awful as I felt now. Luckily, I was proved wrong.

When the real exhibition started, I was delighted by how well made it was and by how much creativity was put into every prop and costume. I can highly recommend using the audio guide during the exhibition as the costumes are nice to look at, but the audio guide includes interviews with the artists who made them. They explain why they used which colour and make you aware of details you never noticed; no matter how often you have watched the films. In addition, you get to see the original wands of every character, and magical devices which everyone wishes to have at home. Prototypes of later animated fantastic beasts are shown as well. One can even repot mandrakes and listen to the terrible sounds they make. I could go on listing the great things the exhibition had to offer but I do not want to spoil every surprise for you. Let me just say one more thing. It is amazing how looking at Dolores Umbridge’s costume gives you a chill even without the actress and her mean facial expression in it. Her pink costume simply represents pure evil.

After a little visit to Hagrid’s hut and a moment of deep admiration for one of Dumbledore’s fancy costumes, the exhibition was over and led straight into a gift shop, where you can spend even more money. Although every item could have been at least 5 euro less, the products were cute and well made. In addition, they are proof to your friends that you are a bit more magical than them.

The Harry Potter Exhibition in Babelsberg is highly recommendable for Harry Potter Fans of all ages. While the beginning of the display starts rather interactively and is clearly designed for kids, it soon becomes more enjoyable for adults who still aren’t over their childhood stories. The exhibition is well researched, well made and a nice selection of props and costumes. It contains many important items without overwhelming us with an inventory reminiscent of a second-hand store.

Anna Guderian

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