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Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

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Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby LucyP » 07 Oct 2009, 22:28

Hey you Wardrobians!

I just recently found out (forgive me if this is old news) but there is a Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, Texas, US. I just wanted to let you guys know. The Narnia Webbers want to meet Oct 17. I **probably** won't be able to go, unless it's a Christmas present, but maybe Wardrobians that live in TX could put something together.
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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby larry gilman » 09 Oct 2009, 15:40

Very weirdly, the exhibition is being hosted by the Houston Museum of Natural Science. From their ticket page (http://store.hmns.org/DateSelection.aspx?item=1066&venue=1):

Step through the wardrobe and into the wintery world of Narnia, where it's actually snowing. That's just one of seven spectacular three-dimensional film settings recreated in this magical exhibit based on the blockbuster film series and fictional children's classics by author C.S. Lewis. Hailed as the near-perfect visitor experience, the exhibit combines more than 150 original costumes, set dressings and props from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian with newly created educational interactives, videos and interviews with scientists so that visitors can consider the surprising similarity between our world and that of Narnia.


This account from http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/08/26/39890 :

Based on the blockbuster film series and C.S. Lewis’ beloved fictional books, the 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art entertainment and educational experience offers visitors the opportunity to tour scenes from the literary world of Narnia.

Through authentic costumes, props and set dressings from the Narnia films, visitors will enter a three-dimensional world that combines the wonders of science with aspects of fantasy.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition” is presented by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media and is produced by Exhibitgroup/Giltspur.

“This exhibition is a truly captivating and entertaining experience for all ages,” said Eddie Newquist, president of Branded Entertainment at Exhibitgroup/Giltspur. “From the scene displays and props seen in the Narnia films, to the scientific and educational aspects of the exhibition that stimulate the senses and the mind, guests will be transported into another world to experience Narnia like never before.”

Visitors to the exhibition will view artifacts from C.S. Lewis’ personal study and experience environments such as the famous attic and wardrobe. Once inside Narnia, visitors will encounter falling snow and other interactive and instructive elements. [. . . “including a replica of the White Witch’s Throne, where guests can sit and feel the chill” -- http://www.artshound.com/event/detail/30447]


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Pictures and a video preview (which my browser refuses to show me) are at http://www.hmns.org/exhibits/special_exhibits/narnia/narnia_learn_more.asp?r=1.

I hardly know where to begin. First, it strikes me how desperate the Museum of Science must be for visitors, if it must resort to Narnia of all things as a teaching frame. There is zero, zip, nada, nyet scientific content to the Narnia books: Eustace at one point protests that in our world a star is a ball of flaming gas, only to be told that in Narnia it isn’t. Our physics don’t work in Narnia, magic does, Narnia is not even a round planet . . . by what contortions, stretches, and far-fetched forcings can one pump basic science lessons into or out of Narnia? (One gets a glimpse by looking at http://www.hmns.org/exhibits/special_exhibits/narnia/narnia_learn_more.asp?r=1 -- some of the saddest pretences at science-teaching tools I've ever forced myself to contemplate.)

Second and primarily — the horror, to me so total as to be difficult to express, of the sheer commercialization and mechanization of the thing — the overwhelming vulgarity of using machines and props to set up a kind of elaborate, spectacular mockery of the imagination — the lunacy of entering a plastic Narnia to encounter (artificial) snow “and other interactive and instructive elements” — the tragedy and debasement of transposing the inner imaginative wealth, private emotional and literary and religious experience of Narnia, into engineered, public, pay-for-entry ($25 adults, $18 children and seniors) spectacle, overseen of course by the Disney Corporation, which has founded its gigantic media empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_Disney) on exactly such debasements . . .

Does anybody else feel a tendency to roll up their eyes into their heads and run screaming blindly?

Larry

(Or know how to make images like the one below fit into these posts? View uncropped, full image in separate window at http://www.hmns.org/images/Throne.jpg.)

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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby LucyP » 09 Oct 2009, 22:59

Never really thought of it that way before. So, it was done out of desperation......
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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby agingjb » 10 Oct 2009, 07:55

Three books on science have been written using Terry Pratchett's Discworld as a starting point and contrast.

But the author participated. I suspect that Narnia is too distant in its structure from Earth, and that its author would not have been sufficiently concerned with (indifferent to? hosrtile to?) a presentation of science using Narnia as a contrast.
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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby larry gilman » 10 Oct 2009, 17:00

Yeah, just on the science-teaching ground alone it's so bizarre and hopeless. "Surprising similarity between our world and that of Narnia" my foot!

Look at the kid in the photo. He's cute, he's smiling for the camera, it's great, but in what bizarro universe can we conjecture that he is going to pause thoughtfully over the very fine print posted to the side and pick up some sound scientific knowledge about "frozen frogs"? Can it even be believed that he has been, as the promotional gush promises, "transported into another world to experience Narnia like never before"? I notice that the Witch's palace has acquired a pretty dingy carpet during the transport process . . . By the way, do I mistake, or is there no mention of any icy "throne" on which the Witch sits in the actual Narnia books? And so the movie-makers and their imagineering staff supplant the real thing with their hokey cliché constructions . . .

Basically I read this as a self-promotional gig for Walden Films, Disney, and of course CS Lewis Pte., the company that owns the Lewis rights. The science museum, meanwhile, ups its visitor count (proving its institutional viability and importance) and turns a much-needed buck on the tickets. Perhaps the museum people delusionally imagine that some of the visitors will emerge holding some scrap of science literacy they didn't have on the way in. But you can't trick or entertain people into understanding a way of thinking, and science is a way of thinking or it is nothing but a low-value grab-bag of disconnected factoids. Frozen frogs indeed.

"Too bad. Too bad! Oh, too bad!" -- as Lee said after Gettysburg . . .

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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby carol » 11 Oct 2009, 08:32

Disney and the science museum are the beneficiaries here. I'm sure there's no great value to CSL Co.
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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby larry gilman » 11 Oct 2009, 12:55

I'm sure there's no great value to CSL Co.


Oh -- well, I'm no lawyer, but I can absorb an explanation -- surely CSL Pte., as the copyright holders, have been paid somewhere along the line for the right to do this stuff? I.e., to make derivative products from these characters, situations, stories? So maybe they don't get an extra nickel for each kid that sits on the plastic throne, but at some point they did sell the right to Walden Films and Disney to make the display, and so must be counted among the beneficiaries of the project?

Also, I wonder if, in selling the rights to make movies, Burger King toys, museum pavilions, etc. etc., however these were divvied or bundled, CSL Pte. held back some kind of "artistic control" or veto power . . . that's possible, isn't it, legally? I know that a book author can sign over movie rights while either retaining or ceding artistic control. Either way, explicitly or implicitly, by saying (for pay) "you can do whatever" or "you can do exactly this," CSL Pte. allows all this commercialization and exploitation and vulgarization to happen, and their cultural sin, in my view, is great.

But mere mortals like us can't know what the specific terms of the contracts are between these particular entities. Even if the contracts weren't inherently private, CSL Pte. is famously secretive.

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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby nomad » 12 Oct 2009, 00:25

I went to this exhibit in Kansas City. There's a room at the beginning with a few pictures and a letter written by Lewis on a desk. But after that it's all about the movies. And the connection to science is VERY tenuous. I just wanted a picture in the white witches chair, which I got despite the 'no photos" rule:

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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby larry gilman » 12 Oct 2009, 00:49

Very well posed -- great shot -- a much better picture than the happy-sappy one I linked to --

and don't "no photos" rules get your goat? What, are they afraid people are going to grab national-security secrets by photographing their precious plastic props? Of which they themselves have already posted photos on the web?

I hate the corporate mind.

Cheers,

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Re: Narnia Exhibit in Sugar Land, TX

Postby nomad » 12 Oct 2009, 01:04

Thanks Larry. Yes, the no photos rule is very silly. BTW, the chair was actually cold.
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