On the last day of our vacation last summer, we took a special trip to the Montreal Science Center to visit Star Wars: Identities.
What is it?
Yes, yes, a Star Wars exhibit. Big surprise, I know. But this was more than just costumes and props. Identities is a socio-psychological look into what makes us who we are.
The tour requires a headset and RFID bracelet, which allows for an interactive component. The exhibit consists of a dozen stations with monitors which play videos on a loop. Each video explains some component of personality and individual identity, exploring how our identities form from our upbringing, our social networks (IRL, not online and our choices. [Yes, they do talk midichlorians. Can't ignore those, sadly.]
There are RFID stations where you get to build a character by selecting their appearance, their planet of origin, and then responding to a series of questions about their behaviour and actions. You can associate your character with that of other visitors, so in our case, hubby, The Dude and I are all connected. What I loved was that the final choice is whether to join the dark side: in the end, it’s always a choice regardless of where you come from
The final station is where you can see your character as a whole and email their backstory to yourself for future reference.
This is my character, ElanalE. (I decided I wanted to create a name that was a palindrome; you know, balance in the force and all that). #nerd She’s a senator who fights with the good guys. [Click on the image if you want to see what a full profile looks like.]
This was a lot of fun. First of all, we’d never been so close to so many Star Wars props and costumes in our lives. In addition to our excitement over seeing the Yoda puppet and Anakin’s podracer (which is HUGE), we were stunned by the size of the battle droids, which were over 7 feet tall! They always seemed so much shorter in the movies.
The audio-visual stations were all interesting, even for the Dude. Granted he is 9, and this was not his first audio tour. I did wonder whether the content would go over his head, but his knowledge of the movies helped keep him interested. There are definitely some younger kids who couldn’t care less about the audio portion of the tour, and who could not read so the RFID stations were redundant for them too. I’d suggest that this is best for kids who can read and who have enough attention span to listen to 20+ minutes of audio broken into 10 stations.
The RFID stations were the most fun. The Dude worked alone, which forced him to read the quizzes and answer questions himself. In the end, we all enjoyed comparing our characters and our selections. The dinner conversation consisted of comments such as, “Da-ad! I can’t believe you joined the dark side!!!”
It took us about 90 minutes to get through the entire exhibit, reading a good majority of the panels, listening to all the stations and doing all the interactive components. We arrived early and took in the other two science activity rooms open in the museum (think Toronto Science Center, only much smaller) which kept us somewhat busy but didn’t fill the entire time we had before our tour. All in all, we totally loved it. (And before you ask, since we did such a comprehensive tour, once was enough for that exhibit.)
- If you don’t know the movies, you can still enjoy the exhibit. The psychological approach means that the content is relevant to anyone interested in humanity, not just the movies. Although knowing the movies does make the content much more relevant.
- Little kids seemed pretty bored. And when they tended to get loud, it made it hard to hear the audio tour. If you’re little one has no attention span, best to keep them out of the way of audio stations.
- If you get to a station when a video is already playing you’re better off touring the neighbouring displays and coming back when it starts over.
- Buy tickets in advance; it’s too busy to just show up and hope you get in right away. People commented on the site that they arrived early in the day and got turned away until mid-afternoon. Some days are even sold out.
(Editor’s note: the exhibit opens in Ottawa this Friday, May 10th and runs until September 2)
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