Years after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Harry Potter fans have clamored for any continuing stories (like “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway) and prequel films featuring the wizarding world (such as "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore"). Fans in Philadelphia and those making visits this summer are in luck. Harry Potter: The Exhibition is currently on display at The Franklin Institute, featuring iconic pieces from the films. We talked with the CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, Tom Zaller, about what visitors can expect from the magical experience.
Inside “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” in Philadelphia
WT: What brought “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” to Philadelphia, and what makes the Franklin Institute such an ideal venue for it?
Zaller: Philadelphia is an incredibly vibrant city that draws visitors from all over the world, and because the fanbase for Harry Potter is broad and certainly wide, it made complete sense to make this our premier host city. We also have a history of collaborations like this with The Franklin Institute. This organization has established great success in launching high-profile world premiere shows like “Harry Potter: The Exhibition.”
WT: What was the process like dressing the facility for an exhibition of such iconic items?
Zaller: We feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to create an all-new experience based upon this incredible world. One of the most appealing aspects of the exhibition is the way we set original props and costumes in immersive environments that celebrate the iconic places fans remember from the films—like The Great Hall, Hogwarts Castle and Hagrid’s Hut. It really came together in a unique and wonderful way.
WT: Harry Potter is very much geared toward the generation that grew up reading the books, but it was also created for younger readers. How does the exhibition make itself suitable and appealing to both groups?
Zaller: The exhibition takes fans from the page to the screen—every film, all the books, and even the stage play is represented in this exhibition.
WT: What are some of the most admired pieces on display?
Zaller: The costumes and wands of Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the Sword of Gryffindor.
WT: What are your top recommendations for making sure visitors get the most out of their visit?
Zaller: Plan your visit in advance, purchase tickets online and consider weekends or evenings. We offer a VIP ticket for anytime access on the day of your visit and an audio guide that allows you to learn more behind-the-scenes facts as you make your way through the galleries.