There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?
I’m a big Star Wars fan. My love for Star Wars is true and passionate — a kind of love typical for neophytes. I saw the original trilogy, as well as the prequels when I was 18, so I couldn’t say that George Lucas has shaped my childhood in any significant way. He did affect many of my relationships with people, though — I think that what Star Wars enthusiasts have in common is the strong feeling of being a part of a very special community.
I can’t even remember how many times did I achieve a pedagogical success thanks to the fact that I was wearing a Star Wars jumper. It works especially well with 10- or 12-year-old boys. Seriously, every time I do some workshops or other activities with kids, I put on my Darth Vader jumper. It means something like “Hey, check out my Star Wars jumper, isn’t it awesome? You are a Star Wars fan too? That means we belong together, so please stop screaming and don’t smear acrylic paint all over the place”. I think that Star Wars is an exceptionally powerful phenomenon — it brings together generations, it has already become a part of culture. You shouldn’t be surprised then with my ecstatic reaction when I realised that shortly before Christmas my beloved MAK Museum in Vienna has opened an exhibition called Star Wars Identities.
The project Star Wars Identities was created by a team of curators from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art & specialists associated with the Montreal Science Centre, representing various scientific disciplines, including neuropsychology, genetics, health sciences, or psychology. The Lucas Museum is still under construction, its opening is scheduled on 2018. It’s being created to display a huge collection of props, costumes, illustrations, or videos, originating not just from the Star Wars series, but from ones of the most iconic movies in the history of cinematography. I can’t think of a better way to promote a museum before it’s even opened than to prepare a traveling exhibition presenting its collection. The exhibition traveled through Canada before its European tournée began. It was presented in Montreal, Edmonton, and Ottawa, then in Paris, Saint Denis, and Köln. After the show in Vienna, it will travel to München. What will be next? It hasn’t been announced yet.
I must confess that I’m not really into psychological stuff, but I find the narration of SWI exhibition really impressive, and, what’s more important, entertaining. It analyses the personalities of Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker, focusing on their background, characterological features, choices they made, and people they became friends with. It’s really amazing how complex psychological content the authors of SWI project managed to present within the exhibition. An interactive form of the exhibition requires full attention and involvement of visitors, as they are supposed to create their own character during the time that they spend within the exhibition space. At the entrance, you receive an audioguide and a magnetic bracelet which collects the data needed for creating a personalised character. To create one you have to answer several questions and make some decisions, ex. pick the race, home planet, and occupation of your hero, and, eventually — choose the side of the Force he or she is committed to. When your personality is complete, just before leaving the exhibition you are asked to enter your e-mail address in order to be given a link to your profile that can be shared on social media, or sent to a friend. The educational output of this exhibition is not to be overestimated. Visitors learn the importance of background, relations with family, difficult experiences and emotions that shape our personality. Although in real life we can’t pick our family or origin, it is our choices and actions that show who we really are. If you want to check out my carefully created Star Wars Identities hero, click the link below:
What’s best about the SWI exhibition is that it can be amusing even if you don’t feel like participating in its interactive part. I mean, what can be better than seeing the original Star Wars props, models of spaceships, and costumes presented on life-sized mannequins? What can be better than seeing actual BB-8, the cutest droid ever created, presented alongside his iconic relative, R2-D2? Seriously, if you love Star Wars (like I do), you’re gonna love this exhibition. It’s the unique occasion to see not just the props and costumes, but also original sketches, drafts, storyboards, and illustrations drawn by George Lucas himself, as well as by artists who worked with him on the whole process of creating characters and scenography of Star Wars. It’s really priceless to see how Chewbacca was brought to life, or what Yoda’s fingernails should look like. One would never tell that details like that could be of any matter, but they are when an epic story is being created. You really have to see it yourself!
As you can see, the content of the exhibition is really, really amazing; nevertheless, the Star Wars Identities project has some weaknesses, mainly organisational ones. Admission charges are ridiculously high (regular ticket costs 21.95 EUR on working days, 24.95 on weekends), and an additional fee of 1.5 EUR for a cloakroom seems like a very bad joke, especially if your bag is placed directly on the floor. There are way too many people admitted to the exhibition at the same time, therefore one has to wait in a long queue to interactive kiosks in order to complete all tasks that are required to create your SWI hero. The audio description works only if one stands within some very particular space, which is really uncomfortable considering the number of visitors. Last, but not least, the gift shop. Well, it’s a shame that a catalogue priced 20 EUR is printed like a magazine: very bad design on a poor quality paper. Rest of the extremely expensive gadgets offered by the gift shop is just as miserable. It doesn’t help to fight the claim that Lucas Films is just a money-making machine. But, after all, it’s Star Wars. We’re gonna love it, no matter what.
your museum assistant
Star Wars Identities website: click here
MAK Museum, Vienna | until April 16
Olympiapark München | May 14—October 17