The traveling exhibit, the first of its kind by HBO, has been created to bring the vivid and rich world of Westeros to fans in five international cities – Toronto, Canada; New York City, New York; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Amsterdam, North Holland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Presented by HBO and international partners, the exhibition is free to the public and focuses on key characters from five of the noble houses (Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon and Greyjoy), showcasing a treasure trove of more than 70 original artifacts from seasons 1 and 2, plus select pieces from this year’s new season.
This was a nice stop over event to keep me preoccupied before the actual Season III premiere takes place on March 31st. It was also a chance to go downtown and check out the second HBO Game of Thrones Exhibit – as last year, I went on the first night at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.
In truth, there is no comparison. Last year’s event was small and not much to really look at. I guess with time and input anything can be improved upon; and it looks as though the good folks at HBO listened to what the public had to say! The exhibit that I attended on March 11 was bigger, better, and much more vibrant!
As I made my way through the Design Exchange doors, I was immediately taken in by the pillars on the ground floor which were covered in the sigils and words from the major houses from Game of Thrones. Seeing this already made me a happy camper. I whipped out my camera to start taking pictures and then proceeded through the double doors with my charming companion, Kathy. Surprisingly, the lady who scanned our tickets told us that picture taking was allowed (last year I was not allowed) and not only could we take pictures, but Twitter had a picture contest going. So you know how I was going to react to that news:
I went snap happy, to say the least. As in 399 pictures later on my phone!
Up and away we went as we climbed a stairwell that led into a dark room with strobe lights and an eerie, almost other worldly like glow. We walked around a corner and saw, to our surprise and amazement, tons of detailed props, posters, murals, and costumes of House Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Targaryen and The Night’s Watch.
I started off with House Stark and each display contained the costumes of the main families from armor, to clothing, jewelry and weapons. Each House had an explanation and family tree of their members and descendants, so that all visitors could read up on the families history. There were various pictures of the Stark members contained in the display and the prominent color was a forest green – strong earth tones that represent their relationship with the land. Amazing as it all was, I was truly impressed with the displays in the glass cases which contained detailed props from both Seasons I and II. You could see the doll that Ned gave to Sansa, the letter Ned wrote as Robert Baratheon dictated his final will, and the pins of the Hand of the King.
The best part of House Stark was the map of Westeros and the weapons display. There were two glass enclosed cases, with the swords and shields from House Stark and a few things from House Baratheon. The craftsmanship put into these weapons is obvious. HBO spared no expense to make them look and feel authentic.
The next display I walked over to was House Baratheon, which was yellow. Pictures of Robert, Renly, and Stannis adorned the walls, as well as a fairly large picture of the Battle for Blackwater Bay. There are more lavish costumes and props to be seen here and enjoyed by all. Another display of props used on set in House Baratheon was enclosed in another glass showcase. Sketches and storyboards were posted on the wall of every House display so fans could get a real sense of the immense planning and artistic talent that takes place behind the scenes. You must give credit where credit is due. The costume design and weaponry department really put a lot of thought and effort, not only for this display, but for the show itself. It truly is a team effort.
Moving along to the House Lannister display, you take note of it right away for three reasons: the bold red color, the striking costumes of the royal family and of course, Tyrion Lannister. He is everyone’s favorite Lannister. With a cunning wit and shrewd intelligence, what’s not to like?
There were lots of pictures displayed from Seasons I and II and the armor, I have to say, was really detailed. It looked pretty heavy too. I can only imagine what the actors and actresses had to endure when performing action scenes in wearing it. In fact, my favorite costume was not the exquisite silk kimono style dress that Cersei wears, but the chain mail, breast plate, and armor worn by Tyrion and Tywin. The Lannisters dress regally, even in military garb. I love that!
When I wandered over to the House Targaryen display, I felt it was a little empty and rather disappointing. I enjoyed the dragons and took pictures of them. But really? There wasn’t a whole lot to work with here. It had two of the costumes that Dany wore and a few pictures from Seasons I and II. Other than the two dragon eggs and Quaithe’s mask, there really wasn’t too much to this display. It really wasn’t doing anything for me and so I moved right on to the last display, which was the Night’s Watch. This one was relatively lively – it included a brief history and description of the Watch, as well as pictures, sketches, and storyboards from Seasons I and II. I really liked getting a close up of the costumes. They looked so authentic and worn in, which is exactly how they appear to me in the show. Looking at Jon Snow’s costume, complete with cape and boots, was probably my favorite part of this display.
Off to the side of the Night’s Watch display are two more things to experience. You can declare your allegiance to one of the Houses in Westeros before sitting on an Iron Throne replica and getting your picture taken. Then – and this super cool – you can shoot arrows to light “wildfire” in order to bring Stannis’ fleet down. Last year, I waited over an hour to get my picture taken on the Iron Throne, so I didn’t need to do that again. However, I did test my luck at the archery. One little known fact about me is that several years ago, I took up archery lessons at a very remote archery club in rural York Region, Ontario. My skills must have paid off because I shot three for three in under 10 seconds. Not too shabby. It was all good clean fun!
As I wandered around for almost two hours, I managed to read all the little display case cards, chat up some fellow fans, and of course, take more pictures! I am extremely happy and fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to go to this year’s Game of Thrones Exhibit. It was wonderfully detailed, colorful, and neatly organized. Everything a girl could want. I would recommend going to one if you get the chance, and if it comes to a city near you!
Editor’s Note: Along with Eleanora, my buddy Michael also went to this event and was kind enough to send me some really cool pics. You can check out a few of the best ones below. By the way, Michael is the same guy who made this amazing character map that we shared with you all last season. This guy is a true fan!
Only two more weeks guys! If you don’t know what that means, well… shame on YOU!