OTTAWA â€” Itâ€™s good news for Star Wars fans: the Force is strong with this place.
On Thursday morning, officials at the Canada Space and Aviation Museum gave a sneak peek of its new Star Wars Identities exhibit, which opens to the public on Friday.
More than 200 props, models, original pieces of art and storyboards made for the movies, costumes and other Star Wars paraphernalia have been laid out in a 11,000-square-foot warehouse. Visitors are encouraged to weave their way through the displays, some of which contain life-size puppets of Yoda and Chewbacca, among other characters, while learning about how various components of everyday life affect a personâ€™s identity.
The real magic in the show is how experts â€” more than 350 worked to create various components of Identities â€” leveraged science fiction to teach a lesson about science fact. Experts in fields such as neuropsychology, genetics, health sciences and psychology all chipped in to create programming. The programming is shown to visitors through a series of documentaries explaining the science behind the role a parent plays in development and how friends could influence a personâ€™s life choices.
Officials from the museum have promised that the show will appeal to Star Wars fans of all ages. The show opened to sold-out crowds last year in Edmonton and Montreal. Attendance at the Montreal Sciences Centre jumped 48 per cent, with as many as 200,000 people taking in the exhibit during its stay there, a centre spokeswoman said.
To test the hype, I brought along two of the most passionate Star Wars fans I know: my five-year-old and seven-year-old sons. From the start their enthusiasm was bubbling as they tore through the exhibition, stopping to point to Han Soloâ€™s costume and staring blankly at a life-size replica of Anakin Skywalkerâ€™s Pod Racer.
But before they could do any of that, they had to be equipped with ear pieces and a bracelet, accessories that all visitors to Star War Identities must wear. The ear pieces allow visitors to listen to the various documentaries about identity; the bracelet tracks the visitorâ€™s progress through the exhibitâ€™s 10 â€œinteractivity stationsâ€� where people self-identify some of their character traits and features and ask questions about which Star Wars characters they most resemble.
The choices a person makes at the interactivity stations culminate in a personalized Star Wars character that visitors are presented with at the end of their visit. The character can be emailed to a personal account so it can be referenced later. While the characters arenâ€™t really unique â€” despite varying their choices both my boys had characters that were strikingly similar â€” they are a neat little bonus for fans and an interesting going-away present.
For the seven-year-old, the ear piece and the short documentaries were a winner. The five-year-old was more interested in seeing characters and more tangible things such as Yoda, Darth Maul and a life-size Darth Vader costume Lucas Arts pulled from its archives. For a young fan, the exhibit is like nirvana. It as if suddenly their LEGO toys had come to life. Or the characters they are used to seeing on the TV screen, stepped out in front of them. Itâ€™s easy to see why. Many of the displays are aided by mood lighting and effects to make it seem as if they are still in one of the iconic scenes from the films.
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