The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition
The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition is a traveling exhibit, created by the Te Papa Tongarewa museum of New Zealand, featuring actual props and costumes used in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies, as well as special effects demonstrations and "making of" documentary videos. The exhibit has developed and changed slightly as it moved from one museum to another; it will presumably continue to travel for several years, but whether or not it will find a permanent home at Te Papa is uncertain.
Props and costumes
While the Exhibit could not possibly hope to contain anywhere near a majority of the props and costumes used in the making of the films, many of the most major elements are represented, as well as most of the major characters. The One Ring is displayed in its own small room, dark and with its engraving projected onto the walls. Quotes from the film echo through the chamber: "Cast it into the fire! Destroy it!", "Azg nazg durbatuluk". Many intricate costumes are on display, including various suits of armor of Gondor, Rohan, the Elves, Rangers, Orcs, Uruk-hai, and Nazgûl, as well as the costumes, robes, weapons and suits of armor of Gandalf the Grey, Saruman, Frodo Baggins, Gimli, Legolas, Aragorn, Arwen, Galadriel, and Théoden. Most of the Rings of Power are displayed as well, the only exception being the Seven Rings of the Dwarf-lords, which were barely seen in the books or the films.
The traveling exhibit has one 'permanent' interactive special effects demonstration. A cart, like the one Gandalf rides into Hobbiton on at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, is set up, using the principle of forced perspective. Visitors who sit on the cart can see themselves in video monitors shrunk down to Hobbit-size, or enlarged to Gandalf-size. Even though the two halves of the cart are different sizes (or, as in the movies, a different distance from the camera), our eyes are tricked, with a little help from digital editing, into thinking that the two halves of the cart are in fact one cart, and the people on it are vastly differing. The same basic process was used for much of the size-changing special effects in the films, including the scenes where Gandalf sits down to tea at Bag End. This is actually one of the simplest and oldest movie special effects, just aided a bit by modern digital technology.
At the Museum of Science, Boston, two more interactive demonstrations were created and added to the Exhibit. A laser scanner, exactly like the one used by Weta Workshop, was used to scan the contours of visitors' faces, creating a digital model of their face in the computer, which was then shaded and textured to look like one of the Argonath, the Statues of the Kings. These hand-held laser scanners were used to scan in all the main actors, as well as a large number & variety of models and maquettes to create digital creatures and characters for the movies. This allowed everything from Shelob to the cave troll to have more realistic size, proportions, and shapes. For some scenes, such as the crossing of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm as it collapses, the entire cast was replaced for a few seconds by digital doubles; the laser scanning technology helped make these doubles look like the real characters/actors. Also, a motion capture demonstration was created by the HITLabNZ, in which visitors wielding colored foam weapons could move against a green screen and watch an Orc, Elf, or Gondorian Soldier move the same way they did. In the making of the films, especially for the motion capture process that yielded Gollum, a special suit had to be worn, covered in sensors. This allowed for a much more accurate and precise motion capture result than the suit-less camera-based demonstration in the Exhibit, but the basic idea remained the same. Presumably, as the Exhibit travels to more museums, more of them will create their own demonstrations to contribute to the visitors' experience.
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- Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand: December 19, 2002 - March 30, 2003
- Science Museum, London, England: September 16, 2003 - January 11, 2004
- Singapore Science Centre, Singapore: March 13 - June 4, 2004
- Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts, USA: August 1 - October 24, 2004
- Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia: December 26, 2004 - March 31, 2005
- Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, Texas, USA: June 5 - August 28, 2005
- Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA: October 8, 2005 - January 3, 2006
- (http://www.filmpark.de) Filmpark Babelsberg, Berlin, Germany: February 1, 2007 – April 29, 2007
- Fundación Caixa Galicia, A Coruña and Santiago De Compostela, A Coruña, Spain: June 23, 2007 - September 16, 2007
- More stops have yet to be scheduled, but the exhibit will, presumably, continue to travel the world.
- Te Papa - Lord of the Rings Exhibition Site - the main website for the exhibition.