When organizers were putting together what they hoped would be the most eye-popping, breathtaking collection of Star Wars costumes for the traveling exhibit “Star Wars and the Power of Costume,” surely they were inspired by the words of Yoda, the wise old Jedi master.
“Do—or do not. There is no try,” Yoda told Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, the second movie released in the Star Wars franchise. Those who’ve visited the EMP Museum in Seattle know the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Lucas Museum and Lucasfilm have been successful in doing something that’s pretty spectacular with an iconic costume collection.
Starting with the 6-foot-8-inch tall Darth Vader costume at the entrance to the exhibit, the outlay—which has been in Seattle since January and will go to 11 other cities during its run through 2020—features 60 different handmade costumes “from stormtroopers and Jedi robes to Chewbecca’s fur suit and Princess Leia’s bikini,” according to Fast Company’s review of the exhibition.
“The exhibit aims to dive deeply into the history and creation of each costume,” according to the Fast Company article. “What inspired Darth Vader’s iconic, evil look? What did the original sketches for Chewbacca look like? What materials were used to create various costumes? What do those materials feel like?”
The stories are told not only through the costumes themselves and traditional placards with information about their origins, but also through the use of iPad kiosks, which are distributed through the exhibit area. The kiosks are powered by Flow Vella digital presentation software, an innovation that “allows the museum to present much more detail about each costume’s creation and history than the physical exhibition space would ever allow.”
“We have a multi-tier approach in terms of interactivity,” Saul Sopoci Drake, exhibitions project director for Smithsonian, told Fast Company. “The visitor is so used to using a tablet. They don’t need complex instructions. People are already familiar with using a tablet. For us, as we develop the content, it allowed us to experiment a little bit.”
Here’s what Star Wars creator George Lucas had to say about the importance of the costumes to the saga’s story:
FlowVella’s software lets users add imagery, video and audio into a file, a feature the creators of the Star Wars traveling exhibit used to add behind-the-scenes video clips, audio recordings and imagery, including original sketches and photographs.
The first audio ever built for FlowVella was Darth Vader breathing,FlowVella CEO Brent Brookler told Fast Company.
“It’s huge validation for us,” says Brookler. “We are now museum-quality presentation software.”
With the backing of the EMP Museum, it’ll be interesting to see if integrators who work in the museum space, including Westbury National Show Systems and our Industry Leaders in that category, will embrace FlowVella for its upcoming projects.
If you can’t make it to Seattle during the exhibit’s run at the EMP Museum, the next scheduled stop is in New York in November. Here’s a guess many of those who have and will come to see the celebration of Star Wars costumes have Star Wars costumes of their own.
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