The newest exhibit at the Pacific Science Center will thrill fans of the "Stars Wars" saga as well as those with an interest in science.
“Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” blends a collection of costumes and movie props with interactive displays that encourage visitors to think of how science and engineering can make life better.
The exhibit opens Saturday and runs through May 8.
The Museum of Science in Boston, working with Lucasfilm Ltd., developed the exhibit that debuted in October 2005.
“Our museum is very interested in finding ways of connecting visitors with science and engineering,” said Emily Robertson of the Museum of Science.
“One way we do that is through popular culture, and ‘Star Wars’ and its characters are so iconic,” said Robertson, who helped develop the exhibit. “We hook people with an interest in ‘Star Wars,’ but they also get to learn about real science and real engineering.”
Robertson said the activities look at whether feats in the six ‘Star Wars’ films could occur in the real world.
One activity, she said, asks visitors if they can make a vehicle float like Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder from Episode IV. Visitors are given a small landspeeder and three magnets and then asked if they can make the car levitate and move down a set of tracks.
For inspiration, the actual landspeeder from Episode IV is next to the activity, Robertson said.
After the exhibit’s debut in Boston, it began touring in June 2006. Its second stop was at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland at the end of 2006.
Most recently, the exhibit was at the Lafayette Science Museum in Lafayette, La.
“It was very successful here, it was the most visited exhibit we had,” said Mary Henderson, director of the museum. More than 30,000 people went through the exhibit during its three-month stay. More than 2 million people have seen it nationwide.
“The ‘Star Wars’ films themselves seem to have a tremendous resonance in our culture. And people are very interested in what I would call the ‘Star Wars’ universe,” Henderson said. “This exhibit did an excellent job of hooking that up with real-world science that made it feel very real for people.”
One of the most popular features of the exhibit is a replica of the Millennium Falcon cockpit from Episode IV.
After walking down a short hallway, visitors step into a full-size re-creation of the cockpit. “We worked really closely with Lucasfilm to get that right,” Robertson said.
Visitors watch a 4.5-minute multimedia presentation featuring narration by Anthony Daniels, who provided the voice for the android C-3PO, and imagery from the Hubble space telescope that explores what is known about our own galaxy.
A sound system made especially for the exhibit by Bose Corp. gives visitors a realistic three-dimensional audio experience.
Robertson said the attraction is not a simulator ride.
“You look out the windows and you see the streaks of starlight as you go to hyperspace. It’s totally immersive. It’s so cool,” Robertson said.
“I thought it was a great experience,” Henderson said. “You really feel like you’re flying. It’s a wonderful tour of the universe, and where else can you get that?”
Another attraction Robertson recommends is where visitors manipulate the legs of a small robot to move it across a flat surface. Another activity uses four Star Wars worlds – Hoth (arctic), Tatooine (desert), Coruscant (metropolis) and Kashyyyk (forest) – to explain how technology helps inhabitants adapt to their environments.
In all, the exhibit includes more than 80 costumes, interactive displays, models and props, such as Darth Vader’s black armor, Princess Leia’s ceremonial white gown and a full-size R2-D2.
“You really feel you are in the ‘Star Wars’ universe while you are there,” Robertson said.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 Jeff.firstname.lastname@example.org
Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination
When: Saturday through May 8
Where: Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Ave. N., Seattle
Tickets: Tickets allow entry at a specific date and time, and include general admission to the center.
Admission: $20 for adults; $18 for seniors (65 and older); $15 for youths (6-15); and $13 for children (3-5). There is an additional charge for the Millennium Falcon exhibit.
Information: Reserve tickets at www.pacificsciencecenter.org or 800-664-8775.