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. Peepiceeka says:

    1st! This is really cool. Since I don't live near any of the places it's being exhibited in, it's nice to have a behind the scenes peek.

  2. Holly says:

    I went and saw this exhibit when it was in Philadelphia. I didn't want to leave. The costumes were more beautiful and elaborate than I could have imagined. And the props; from the Ice Queen's throne, to the swords, and walking through the wardrobe it self were fun to try out.

    • Really? 'Cause I'm just about to leave to go it! I'm not kidding! Only I'm seeing the one in Houston! I going to go preety soon, at around 8:00 I think. From what I've seen and heard, I just know it's going to be AWSOME!!! |=^D Long live Aslan!

  3. andrea says:

    i am going yay!! i will try to summit pics!!

  4. Fluffernutter says:

    It looks so amazing!!! especially the centaurs

  5. I [i]so[/i] wish one of these exhibits was coming close to me! Looks really cool!

  6. WillMoseleyandSkandarcrush! says:

    Lucky people to whoever goes there! It looks so fun! Wish I could go… 🙁

  7. Narniamiss says:

    What fun! I would love to see the costumes.

  8. LucyReepicheep♥(used to be celtic13 and Narnian Jesus Freak) says:

    so wish i could go!! sweet interview!! 🙂

  9. Empress of the Lone Islands says:

    I was able to make it to the Exhibition in Kansas City. If you have any chance to go see it, I would definitely go! I could have stayed in there for hours…the attention they payed to detail! Like the battle scenes on Miraz's shield and the embroidery and such on the costumes. Queen Prunaprismia's dress from when King Miraz was crowned was so beautiful! They even had Edmund's flashlight and chess piece, Peter's knife and other tidbits among the treasure from Cair Paravel. The highlight for me though were the Pevensie's crowns at the very end…stunning!

    • 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!

    • 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!

  10. aussie_lucy says:

    Wow! Cool! The exhibition looks great! Thanks for posting all about the exhibition!

  11. Matthias of Redwall says:

    Im just curious, but if they have the sword Peter used in LWW and PC in the colection,would they use that same sword for Caspian in VDT? or would they use a replica?

    • Considering how many narnia exibits ther are they problably will make replicas for each exibit and not the real thing because it would be to unfair if one place got a real movie prop nad the others didn't and if they did that there would be a lot of fighting between the companies.

  12. aslan'schild says:

    my friend just got a boot that is grayish blueish….y. that would be really cool if i could go to that!

  13. Lucille Brown says:

    I hoping to go I live in Texas.

  14. Narnia Lover says:

    I went to the one that was in KC, M! 😀 IT WAS ALSOME! 😀 IT WAS AMAZING! 😀 SAIL ON VDT!!!

  15. Great to all of you guys that could go and that live there cause you can go any time you want, but out of all the places they don't have one in the rocky mountains. I think they should make one in there because to tell you the truth I've never been out of the rocky mountains exept for one time and my family only spent a little time there, but thats not the point. I just think they should make one in the western united states so that people that live there don't have to wait till they're 20 to see the exibits.

    • Fire Fairy says:

      Ditto on that! It seems to me that sometimes people think of the Rocky Mountains as still being desert! Um, Hello, there are a lot more people here now!

      • Yeah,well I think the people in charge are making great decisions as they they are, and if they want to move whatever it is you want them to move, chances are they're going to get their wish and you two will get your's!

      • 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.

  16. Luis says:

    Plis narnia ehxibition come to puerto rico. Here in Puerto Rico r allot of fans waiting for that exibition. Plis COOOOOoomEEEEEEe!!!!!! I love narnia

  17. narnianprofessor says:

    Yes! Finally something I can actually go to! 😀

  18. Fire Fairy says:

    Does anybody know where I can find a schedule and list of where the exhibit will be and at what times? I want to know if there'll be any close by that I can go to in the future.

  19. Serenia says:

    I got to see this in KC, and the attention to detail and symbolism in all the costumes and props was amazing. Go see it if you can!

    • Narnia Lover says:

      It was cool, wasn't it!?!? I went to the one in KC one the last day that it was open! I live in Iowa and it was like a three hour drive there! But it was SOOOOO worth it! It was a b-day present for me! I took my friend. The cloths were so amazing! Anyone who likes Narnia will LOVE this for sure! 😀

      • Yeah it was AWSOME! I just got back about 10 minutes ago. Kind of ironic huh? Anyway, I thought the swords that you could try to lift was the best part what. What was your favorite part?! Long live Aslan!

      • 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!!! 😀

  20. edmund rox says:

    Cool, wish i could see em in person!

  21. Edmund-is-hot says:

    Omg! I so wanna go there! =D

  22. Me Sa U Sa says:

    That looks like fun!

    • Of cours it does! It's great they've got fake falling snow and everything! Who says it can't snow in Texas?!?!?!

      • 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! 😀

      • narnian resident says:

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

  23. Oh wow! That is so awesome! I wish I could go….. 🙁

  24. Lucy&Reepicheep says:

    cool I want to go there

  25. martin the warrior says:

    why are they showing that boy in every picture?

  26. narnian resident says:

    im going to try to go! im gonna beg to my mom, and try to come up with all kinds of rational ways to get us to go!

  27. aslansothername says:

    I'm going there in a few weeks!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to see it!!!! Maybe I can uplode some pictures on a form for everyone to see

  28. narniafan#1 says:

    Oh wow!I wish I could go. It looks amazing!

  29. pselpevensie says:

    i went to it when it was at philidalphia. it was AMAZING!!! i want it to come to boston!

  30. 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.

  31. 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?)

  32. Mark Friedrich says:


  33. wootwoot says:

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

  34. 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..

  35. narnia obsessed says:

    i so wanna go

  36. waleed sajjad says:

    same as above

  37. yeswelovenarnia says:

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

  38. King Skandar the Just says:

    AWESOME! I wish I could go!

  39. esta bn esa cosa de minatura sisisisisisi bye

  40. waleed sajjad says:

    is it only in houston??!!

  41. scrub says:

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

  42. 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!

  43. Lucy&Reepicheep says:

    That is sooooo cool, I wish I good go

  44. 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!

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

  52. iLiveInNarnia says:

    So epic

  53. 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?