The Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination museum exhibit wrapped up its stay at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California last weekend, and I managed to put off going until almost the last day (I procrastinate, even when it comes to Star Wars). The traveling exhibition developed by the Museum of Science in Boston with Lucasfilm includes props and costumes from all six films and ties them with real life developments in technology to show the close ties the saga has to science. Medical equipment in both worlds, robotics, transportation, ships – plenty of advancements bridge the world between fiction and reality. I like knowing that our universe has some aspects in common with the galaxy far, far away, but mostly? I was there to drool over the replicas. Forget science, just give me Star Wars.
Read more about the exhibit and see lots of photos after the break.
The exhibit was set up with displays that were vaguely organized by type and location. The weapons were all together, and the Hoth props were together. Yet one display had Mace Windu’s robes, an original trilogy Yoda puppet, and the remote training device from A New Hope. The categories were obviously loose. If you’re like me and make your own way (read: gets distracted by shiny objects and runs to see them) rather than following the set exhibit path, it doesn’t so much matter anyways. This wall was staged at the beginning of the exhibit, and I’ve decided I’d like to have a wall of my living room look exactly it:
Ships of all sizes occupied the front part of the exhibit. Though many of the placards on the displays stated the models were props, they didn’t always specifically say whether they were used on screen or not. They were wonderfully detailed regardless. I drooled over not one, but two Millennium Falcons, a podracer, a sandcrawler, a mini Naboo starfighter, a 1:1 scale and a tiny landspeeder used for distance shots, the Tantive IV, a X-Wing, and more. It made me beyond happy to be that close to items from the films I love, and I could have obsessed over paint jobs, aging, and all the little details forever. As it was, I know I blocked some people from getting photos of ships.
Plenty of costumes from the saga were included, too. Nothing too elaborate – none of Padmé’s crazy costumes, just her Geonosis arena outfit – but exactly the ones I’d choose to see up close. Mannequins wore Han Solo’s clothes (from Return of the Jedi), Anakin Skywalker’s robes, prequel era Obi-Wan Kenobi’s robes, Darth Vader’s helmet, Lobot’s head piece, Princess Leia’s white dress, and Jawa robes were there among others. It was great reference material for cosplayers, and a friend with me kept pointing out seams and little details I wouldn’t have noticed. I got to take a close look at Han’s holster and belt for costume improvements. Three Wookiee costumes were included too, and I couldn’t help but think of the person who had to manage those costumes on set and for the exhibit. That’s got to be a lot of brushing.
There was no shortage of droids around either. A Star Wars exhibit just wouldn’t be complete without R2-D2 and C-3PO. The latter appeared as his shiny golden self and as the naked droid built by young Anakin. They shared space with the Probe Droid and medical droid from The Empire Strikes Back, the interrogator droid from A New Hope (it looks much less scary in person), a battle droid, and a pit droid from The Phantom Menace. These were compared with modern day accomplishments in the robotics field, and it was eerie to think that some of the items in a science fiction tale are actually quite real.
Though the entire exhibit made me happy, I was particularly excited about the handful of maquettes present. Part of is that anything in miniature instantly raises my level of excitement and part of is it that I like seeing how characters I only know fully animated on screen start as clay sculpts. It’s seriously impressive. I’d love to visit wherever all the maquettes used in Star Wars: The Clone Wars are stored. I’d even clasp my hands in order not to touch anything.
I’d be remiss not to mention the weapons display. It was difficult to photograph because of lighting and the hordes of people, but there was a nice array of lightsabers and blasters. Further away from the crush there were even Wookiee bowcasters!
The exhibit was overrun with children exclaiming over the displays and using interactive stations. As usual for me at these kind of places, I found myself wishing for an adults only day. I wanted to take pictures of Han and Chewbacca and get close-up shots of their costumes. The kids just wanted to pose with the duo and kept getting in my way. Not that I can complain much; they were excited. I get it. I’m sure I flailed myself right in the way of photos, too, but man. The exhibit would have been much more enjoyable on a quieter day. Because of the crowds, I also missed out on the Millennium Falcon experience. The passes for the cockpit experience were already sold out despite the fact that I got there around an hour after the museum I opened.
That said, if this exhibit comes through a local museum near you, I definitely recommend it. It will be at the Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas from the end of May through September. Just be smarter than me and don’t go on closing weekend after spring break (opening weekend probably isn’t the best idea either). It’s a great outing for Star Wars fans young and old and even good for those with short attention spans. If you’re not taking photos of every little detail and checking out all the interactive portions, it probably only takes about an hour or so to stroll through the exhibit. I don’t know why you would breeze through when you can examine the details of models close-up and do things like spot the miniature pin-up girl poster in the cockpit of the Tantive IV model.
See more photos here.