Westeros in West Midtown: Game Of Thrones: The Exhibition

Published on April 3rd, 2013 in: Current Faves, Museum Exhibitions, TV |

By Maureen

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I knew that I would have to wait in line for Game Of Thrones: The Exhibition. It came to New York City for only five days amidst a five-city world tour to promote the show before season three’s premiere. I knew it would be crowded, and I knew it would probably end up taking a whole day to look at half an hour’s worth of an exhibit. I was right about all of these things.

What I didn’t anticipate, however, was how worth it that would all be. I got there about 1:45 p.m. on Friday, and was let into the exhibit at about 4:45 p.m. During the wait, staff members of the exhibit walked up and down the line shouting out trivia questions, and my boyfriend won a pen light by answering “what song is used to convey the message ‘don’t mess with the Lannisters’?” Mostly, though, we were just reading/playing games on various devices.

But this is not a piece about waiting in line for the Game of Thrones exhibit. This is a piece about the exhibit. The exhibit was in one room, with each wall devoted to one of the families, or Houses, from the show. When you first walked in, there were props and merchandise that are for sale at the HBO store. I had read a tip online to check out wildling Ygritte’s boots, and I’m glad I remembered it, as they were right in the first case and were very cool. Underneath the giant cozy warm-looking boots were huge antlers serving as spikes for walking along the ice. This was just the first of many mind-blowing details that sometimes don’t get properly recognized in the frenetic action of the show’s multiple storylines.

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There were two cases containing weapons and armor that have appeared on the show, again showcasing fascinatingly intricate levels of detail in carvings and sword-hilt sigils. The next section was House Stark, identified early on in the show and novels as sympathetic hard-working people who have an immense pride in their northern homeland of Winterfell. They had a display of costumes for every member of the Stark family, and video clips playing on screens with the actors as well as author George R.R. Martin talking about the different characters. The videos also mentioned how the costume designers went about creating the look for each individual character, including collaborating with the actors as well as Martin. The costumes were extremely interesting. Everything about them seemed to have significance, from the colors of the cloaks and vests, to the number of knots in the scarves. There was a similar display on the opposite wall for the Lannister family, the wealthy amoral antagonists of the story. These costumes were more intricate and elaborate, owing to the Lannisters’s wealth and well-to-do status.

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For the other houses, there were collections of props related to the characters, mostly armor and weapons, though in the case of House Targaryen there was a model of one of Daenerys’s dragons, Drogon. This, in conjunction with the models of the dragons’ eggs (two of the three, as the third one was given to George R.R. Martin as a wedding gift) were the things that I had no prior knowledge of and so I was very interested to look at them closely. The dragon eggs had an amazing level of detail (I know I’m saying that about everything, but it’s really an awe-inspiring experience to see this stuff up close). They also had a few outfits worn by Daenerys.

In addition to the props and costumes, there were two interactive sections of the exhibit. One was the Blackwater Bay experience. This was a virtual-reality style video simulation, where you stand behind a giant bow and attempt to shoot “flaming arrows” which you track with your movements into boats on a computer screen. As expected, my boyfriend made all of his three shots and got the end message “you would make a fine bannerman” and I missed all of my shots, prompting the end message “cowards can always hide at the wall.” Westeros is a harsh place, it seems. The other interactive event was having your picture taken sitting on a replica of the Iron Throne. This I knew about beforehand, and so I dressed in a Medieval-style dress I had previously worn as a Halloween costume. This made the wait outside cold, but made the picture so much fun (and very epic-looking if I do say so myself!).

I had a great time attending this exhibit. The long wait times and small interior space will definitely deter some people, but if you have the time and are a fan of the show or the books (though this exhibit is focused exclusively on the show, as HBO and Time Warner Cable are the sponsors for the NYC leg), and you don’t mind killing some time, it’s totally worth checking it out.

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