Westeros comes alive: Exploring ‘Game of Thrones: The Exhibition’
Despite the eternal wishes and hopes of Game of Thrones fans everywhere, there is no way to travel to Westeros. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist. So until HBO gets wise and builds all of Westeros to scale as a giant amusement park, we’ll have to settle for the version brought to life with some television magic. This, of course, does not mean they aren’t trying to bring a little bit of Westeros reality to fans across the world.
With Game of Thrones: The Exhibition, HBO has delivered a museum-like experience that will give fans in 8 cities around the world a chance to get up-close-and-personal with some of the incredibly detailed, hand-crafted props and costumes. This week the tour is in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Film Festival, giving us a chance to check it out and behold some of the many wonders held within.
To say that it’s a museum-like experience is not to say that it’s at all stuffy and boring. Think of the coolest museum you’ve ever been to, then add the fact that this one has The Iron Throne. You can even have your picture taken as you sit atop The Throne thanks to a helpful group of staff, as you’ll see below. Beyond the big chair at the back of the room, there is so much more to take in. As you’ll see in my photo walk-through below, the exhibit is littered with costumes, jewelry, props and even Jaime Lannister’s severed hand (and the gold replacement he’ll be wearing this coming season).
Beyond the props and costumes — which are amazing in their level of detail and the way they appear ancient and worn — there are also several interactive displays to be experienced. The “Relive the Moment” display is a big video board behind The Iron Throne that displays favorite moments from the first three seasons as decided by fans via kiosks strategically placed around the exhibit. “Catch the Throne: A Mix-Tape” is a listening station that allows you to sample a special project full of Game of Thrones inspired music from a number of notable hip-hop artists. And at the back of the exhibit is a bar serving Brewery Ommegang’s latest creation, Fire and Blood, a Daenerys Targaryen inspired red ale. So if seeing severed hands and the very harrowing “In Memoriam” wall gets to you, there’s a chance to settle down with a beer. Though I wouldn’t recommend and Fire and Blood beer prior to experiencing the show’s most impressive interactive element, the “Ascend the Wall” Experience. Using an Oculus Rift virtual reality simulator, you are placed in an elevator at Castle Black and taken up The Wall to the very top, where you have a moment to walk around and look out at the land of the Wildlings. It’s a lot of fun, including the part where you can look down the other side of The Wall and be completely terrified. It’s full-on 4D experience, including the rickety feeling of a wooden elevator, cold winds and even some delightfully terrifying surprises. Despite being terrified of heights, I signed the waiver and got in. No regrets whatsoever. Though I should apologize to the staff — when Tyrion peed off the side of the wall it was okay, but apparently I’m not allowed. Don’t make the experience so real next time…
Game of Thrones: The Exhibition is open to the public from March 7-11 at Austin Music Hall. It will also travel to Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Oslo, Norway; Toronto, Canada; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Vancouver, Canada in the coming months. For more information, visit HBO’s website. For those who unfortunately cannot make it to Austin or the other cities on the schedule, here’s a photographic tour.