Behind the Scenes of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition

Front gate of the Narnia exhibit - HMNS Sugarland

Front gate of the Narnia exhibit - HMNS Sugarland

On October 3, 2009, the Houston Museum of Natural Science will open the doors of its newest location in Sugarland. From earth science to dinosaurs, this 43,000 square foot building offers visitors an additional branch of HMNS. One of the first traveling exhibits this museum will host is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition.

Previously in Kansas, the exhibit will showcase costumes, props, and much more from the Narnia movies and the author’s life. An exhibit like this takes a lot of effort to move from location to location and to get ready for the thousands of visitors that will move through its halls.

Carolyn Sumners, project manager for HMNS Sugarland and the Chronicles of Narnia, answered several questions on some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Narnia exhibit.

The throne of the White Witch - HMNS Sugarland

The throne of the White Witch - HMNS Sugarland

Q: With this being the opening of a new branch of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, is there any additional work that you have to put into setting up for an exhibit like The Chronicles of Narnia?

A: This challenge has been to solve problems before they arise — answering the question, what could go wrong when the building is finished. Will the loading dock work for large trucks and large crates. Do we need a bigger entrance door? Can everything be sent to the second floor safely? What do we do with all the crates? We discovered that we have huge limitations in the loading dock, that we had to make the front door larger, that we needed a wider ramp for unloading in the front of the building and that lots of crates really get in the way in a small museum. But all challenges have been addressed and the Narnia exhibit is on schedule.

Q: What all goes into setting up an exhibit like this?

Installation logistics as described above, but also how tall and wide are the pieces, what order should visitors experience the exhibit, can we make a good path. Also do we have enough power for lights and who is providing the lights and do we have any unusual electrical needs — like the ice wall which required 220 volts. Then the challenge of handling the press correctly — getting the proper approvals, which is very important for the Museum and for the Narnia staff.

Centaurs - HMNS Sugar Land

Centaurs - HMNS Sugar Land

Q: How are exhibits, like Narnia, transported from one venue to another?

A: 11 semi-tractor trailer trucks.

Does the museum itself install the exhibit or are there people who travel with it who set it up?

A: An installation crew comes in for installation and the Museum exhibits staff assists this crew.

Q: Are there any stories about setting up the exhibit that you can share?

The exhibit has many strange pieces — like centaurs and tree trunks — that look very strange moving through the lower floor and being hoisted onto the second floor. With the careful planning that has gone on, the layout all fits where it’s supposed to. Because the Museum had not opened, we did not have to move exhibits out of the way — like our big T-Rex called Stan and our Science on a Sphere exhibit — both in the atrium where the lifting to the second floor is taking place. The atrium will be more cramped for future installations.

Q: Are there any pieces or interactive parts of the exhibit that are more popular with crowds than others based on the previous venues?

Snow falls on visitors - HMNS Sugarland

Snow falls on visitors - HMNS Sugarland

A: I predict that the snowy landscape, just after going through the wardrobe, will be very popular. The exhibit is also proving to be very popular with school groups because it can be tied to language arts, social studies, and science.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition is a magnificent exhibit, as NarniaWebbers have reported. Thanks to Carolyn Sumners and the Houston Museum of Natural Science for giving Narnia fans this behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming exhibit! Visit for more information.

116 Responses

  1. Fire Fairy says:

    You sound pretty excited about it, especially since you replied to almost everybody's comments!

  2. Lucy Pevensie says:

    Do you still have your pictures?

  3. TSLovejoy says:

    I saw this exhibit when it was in Kansas City. It was great, but in was in Missouri, NOT Kansas as it states above.

  4. Well not all of the rocky mountais are deseret just plainly Utah, Nevada and some of colorado, but I think the main thing is they are going for the ones you know when your like 5 and that have more of a population rank. And I think if they don't do one in the rocky mountains they should at least do one in Calafornia or something really close.

  5. checkers says:

    Man! I so wish I could go!!! It's only 6 hours away!!! 🙁 But I'm going to the Star Wars concert, so that oughta' compensate. 🙂 Hey, who knows, maybe the exhibition will come to New Orleans! (Please?)

  6. Narnia Lover says:

    I liked all of it really! 😀 It was all so cool that I just couldn't pick a favorite!:D Everything was SOOOOOOOO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! 😀 I wish I could see it again! But that was the best b-day present EVER! 😀 SAIL ON VDT!!! 😀

  7. Narnia Lover says:

    I'M SUCH A BIG NARNIA FREAK THAT I SAVED SOME OF THAT FAKE SNOW! 😀 I put some into a bag with Edmund, Peter, and Caspian action figurs and now it's in my colection of Narnia stuff! 😀 I'M A FREAK! 😀

  8. Mark Friedrich says:


  9. narniafan4ever says:

    Yep, that about sums it up! 😀

  10. The Narniad says:

    You are so so so so LUCKY to be able to go to that exhibition! If I ever get the opourtunity to go to it, you'd never see me again! I would LIVE in that place! AND YOU GET TO SEE THE PEVENSIE'S CROWNS!!!!!!!! It's so unfair!!!!!!! You lucky lucky people!

  11. wootwoot says:

    i went to the one in kansas city….twice!! i have pictures, but where can i post them??

  12. Matthias of Redwall says:

    yeah,that makes sense.

  13. Matthias of Redwall says:

    I was just on their website, and I looked at the past exhibits, and I saw one for the lord of the rings….I wish I could have seen that one..

  14. I really want to see this and the Harry Potter one, 🙂

  15. narnia obsessed says:

    i so wanna go

  16. I really want to see this and the Harry Potter one. 🙂

  17. waleed sajjad says:

    same as above

  18. yeswelovenarnia says:

    oh man what i would give to go to Houston!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. narniafan4ever says:

    Well, I am posting this comment at 8:46 ET, but look at the time it says I posted it…

  20. King Skandar the Just says:

    AWESOME! I wish I could go!

  21. Narnia Lover says:


  22. esta bn esa cosa de minatura sisisisisisi bye

  23. Nice! I saw you changed your name so people won't think other wise(Will Polter).

  24. waleed sajjad says:

    is it only in houston??!!

  25. scrub says:

    i wish i could go so bad!!!!!!!!!

  26. skandargirl_95 says:

    oh, YOU got to see them…I'm getting very envious…oh how I wish I didn't live halfway around the world!

  27. narnian resident says:

    i cant really comprehend how someone can like both narnia and harry potter, if you know what i mean.

  28. narnian resident says:

    i suppose thats why you name is "narnia lover", narnia lover 🙂

  29. narnian resident says:

    i love your name, Aslansothername!

  30. narnian resident says:

    really?! but i suppose they're not doing the LOTR one anymore…

  31. narnian resident says:

    thats what it says.

  32. narnian resident says:

    what you would give for any city the exibit goes to, right?

  33. Matthias of Redwall says:

    yeah, they aren't doin it anymore….wish they were though!

  34. Narnia Lover says:

    No, I don't think I do! 🙁 Is it because of what peolpe say about Harry Potter? The bad things that is?

  35. Narnia Is My Life says:

    Everybodys talking about Harry Potter and Narina i swear we have the same minds i am in LOVE with both. But the thing is there aren't really any cute boys in Harry Potter like Skandar or Will.Plus the guy who plays Neville Longbottom came to were i live and signed autographs it was so cool!

  36. narniafan4ever says:

    yeah, but that seems like 100 years!!!! 🙁

  37. Narnia Lover says:

    OMG NO FAIR! THAT IS SO COOL!!!!!!! 😀 Except, the guy who plays Ron is kinda cute, and Tom (Draco)is VARY cute! He and Skandar are my favorite guy actors! 😀

  38. narnian resident says:

    no, thats not what i meant, narnia lover. but you probably wont understand anyway.

  39. MP_in_narnia says:

    I went to the one in Phoenix, AZ! It was SOOOO AMAZING!!!!! I was in there for hours! You know you're spending a lot of time there when the workers who rotate positions pass you by more than five times!
    Everything was so beautiful!
    Haha, and a sort of funny story…at the exhibit, I was looking up at a cyclops-like creature and my mom jokingly said "Handsome dude, huh?" and a man standing nearby looked at us really weird, and then went away and started laughing. lol
    Anyway, if you are able to go, GO! 🙂 You will not regret it!
    Further up and further in!

  40. narniafan4ever says:

    haha! That happens to me alot. 😀 It makes me laugh. lol. I love my mom. 🙂

  41. Lucy&Reepicheep says:

    That is sooooo cool, I wish I good go

  42. iLiveInNarnia says:

    This is really cool. I went to the PC thing at WDW and it didnt have this much stuff to go threw..but seeing the costumes, stone table, Edmund's "Torch", and his chess piece..and more was really cool. Thanks for the pics!

  43. iLiveInNarnia says:

    There was one in Kansas City. My friend went to it. SHe said it was pretty sweet

  44. iLiveInNarnia says:


  45. NarnianElf says:

    Does anyone know where Sugarland is located? I mean, is it in America or England or Europe or did I just miss it when I read the story? NARNIA ROCKS!!!!!

  46. Peepicheep says:

    AWESOME! I so so so want to go there. If only I could go there. Narnia RULES! Long Live Narnia!

  47. NarnianElf says:

    That looks SOOOOOOOO awesome! I want to go SOOOOOO bad!! Narnia is so incredibly awesome!!

  48. narniagirl399 says:

    wow I want to go sooo bad.

  49. always narnian says:

    that would be very enjoyable to go to!

  50. narnia 4 ever! says:

    WOW SO WANT TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. Please Type Here says:

    I know. A lot of people are talking about HP all of a sudden. Personally, I'm really not a fan of HP, but still, having someone come to where you live and sign autographs is pretty cool. 🙂

  52. that is sooo cool! i wish i were there.:(

  53. iLiveInNarnia says:

    So epic

  54. Emily says:

    I got to see the exhibit!!!!! I loved the crowns. Did you know that the flower petals on Lucy and Susan's crowns are made of mother of pearl?

  55. Urnus says:

    If your still reading this, Sugarland is part of Houston (TX).