Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Gypsy Librarian at The Lord of the Rings Exhibition, Houston Museum of Natural Science

This happened last Saturday July 23, 2005, but it took me a while to write a bit on it, then get it up here. So, here goes.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is currently hosting the exhibit for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The exhibit runs until August 28th. If you happen to be a fan of the movie trilogy, or a Tolkien fan, or both, you will definitely enjoy this exhibition. However, I don't think you have to be a fan to appreciate and enjoy it. Anyone interested in film and how films are made will also enjoy it. Warning: if you have not seen the films, you may end up with the desire to do so. I actually overheard a couple talking to each other, and the lady said to her companion, "doesn't it make you want to go out and watch the movies again?"

Given that it was a Saturday and that I had a late start, my better half and I got there around noon and found it a little on the crowded side. Nothing unbearable, but coming in early in the morning or late in the day may be a better option for some. We personally were in no rush, so no problem.

The exhibit itself features realia, artifacts, and other items from the film sets. There are also miniature models and sculptures, some made especially for the exhibition. The exhibition provides many interactive elements with stations to view various short documentary films about the films and the craft of filmmaking. You can also stand on a blue background to see yourself on a screen in a forest with a sword through digital effects, and you can even get your face scanned to make a digital model of it. Visitors can also touch swords and other artifacts as well. Features like this make the exhibit educational as well as fun, especially for young visitors. We went on a date (the little one was at camp with the Girl Scouts), but there is certainly something for young kids.

In addition to the LOTR exhibition, the museum is featuring a special exhibition on Gold. This one runs until September 18, 2005. Yes, the yellow shiny element used in currency and jewelry that has caused all sorts of havoc through history. The exhibition features various artifacts from nuggets and pieces of gold to coins and jewelry from around the world. For the exhibition, the museum throws in for visitors a small but very nice book that gives you all you may want to know about gold and its history. It can make a good quick reference source on the subject as it includes good information. To complement the exhibition, there is also an IMAX film, Gold Fever. Starting with the story of a modern day prospector, the film tells the story of various gold rushes, the presence of gold around the world, and its history. I found the segment on the African Gold Coast and their king to be particularly interesting. If you pay for the special exhibition, it includes the film. It seemed a good package for an interesting exhibition and a good IMAX film.

Finally, we caught the 8:00pm showing of the IMAX film Mystic India. The film tells the story of an 11 year old boy who embarks on a 7 year journey of discovery. He left his home barefoot and only the clothes on his back. This spiritual journey provides the frame to a story about India's diverse mystical traditions. The film features excellent scenes and vistas of this nation, many of which will simply take your breath away. Of the various films on the museum's IMAX, I think this is the "quiet" one not many think of when choosing what to watch. They are featuring films on fighter pilots, thrill rides, and other topics. However, I highly recommend this one if it comes to an IMAX near you. It was an excellent way to wrap a visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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