Narnia Exhibit in Jacksonville, FL
NarniaWebber Jason took a tour of the Narnia Exhibit at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History this past weekend.
You are greeted by two stone Lion statues guarding the entrance. I had visions of Pilgrim’s Progress here. Once we entered the exhibit, the first thing we saw was a huge open wardrobe. When we peered inside we could see actual Lamppost surrounded by snow covered trees, beckoning us to enter. We moved on through the display keeping to the ones along the wall and we agreed to save the ones in the middle for last. There were many costumes and props from both movies encased in glass for us to observe. Then we came to a large flat screen television showing clips from the movies, on each side of the film were two large and forbidding Centaurs clasping their enormous two handed swords providing an honor guard. We continued onward and saw numerous statues of a Minotaur and even one of Reepicheep. There were also displays of how medieval stone architecture was constructed, a suit of chain mail Telmarine armor and interactive computers that enabled us to create our own Narnian Coat of Arms.
As we made our way forward we found a large scale model of Miraz’s Castle along with a video of how the actors felt when they first arrived in the castle for filming. The detail was intricate and very well crafted. At one point I thought I actually saw furnished rooms but that might have just been wishful thinking. We were near to completing our tour around the exhibit when we happened upon a golden display of the Treasure Room. A statue of Queen Susan stood in the center and she was surrounded on all sides by golden objects glistening in the light provided by the museum. Like the rest of the exhibits, we were not permitted to photograph or touch anything in the display but they did have a few placards that asked us to find certain hidden objects in the Treasure Room, like Edmond’s Torch or one of Lucy’s model lions that represented her deep faith in Aslan.
We decided to go into the center displays next which were more costumes and models of the prominent Narnia Characters form the first movie. The first was of Jadis the White Witch’s dress she wore when she first met Edmond in Narnia and her Icicle Tiara. We were provided with facts at each site but at this one, I was informed about something that had eluded my attention to this day. The notation stated that her crown melted when Aslan returned to Narnia and spring began to grow throughout the land. I had never noticed that until I read it there but, upon reflection I discovered that to be true. The last site in the center of the exhibit was of Mr. Tumnus. They had the Actual door and window to his home. You were not permitted to enter the home but they did have other displays to compensate. There in a glass case was a replica of the makeup used to create Mr. Tumnus and some of his props. The one item that stood out for me at this site was the Arrest Warrant post to the outside wall of Tumnus’ cottage, complete with Maugrim’s signature, his paw print.
The final display, which brought us back to the entrance, was one of the best. It was not of Narnia the enchanted land but of the man who created it, C.S. Lewis. It was entitled C.S. Lewis’ Wardrobe and it looked as if it were the very place where he wrote the books. There were not just his books in the study but other personal books from his library of Beatrix Potter and some from his very good friend J.R.R. Tolkien. I was listening to a video describing the site by none other than Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ Stepson, when I noticed a small photograph of a group of people setting on a bench and beneath the photo was one small name plate to describe what picture I was viewing, The Inklings. This was the first picture I had ever seen of this group of friends and authors that gave us Narnia, Middle Earth and much more. We finished visiting the exhibit and went on into the museum.
The Narnia exhibit itself is not very large but it is not the size or the creativity of the exhibit that makes it great but the size of the imagination of the person viewing the exhibit that matters. We were in a museum but the Narnia exhibit transported us to a magical world that had only been seen in our imaginations and televisions until that day. I guess we did step through the wardrobe after all.
Thanks Justin for the great review. We hope that anyone in the area has a chance to visit the exhibit.