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Star Wars and the Power of Costume


Getting up close to Star Wars costumes is fun; learning about what went into designing them is interesting.  If you’re not a Star Wars fan, chances are you know someone who is.  Star Wars and the Power of Costume is a modern exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida.

01-1 KAI SW1LRInspiration for the costumes came from different time periods, places and cultures here on Earth.  A thoughtful effort was made to showcase costumes in different ways.

After seeing the exhibit, I took a docent led tour of the main building and lucked out.  John Stewart, our guide, beautifully tied the exhibits in the traditional part of the museum with the Star Wars exhibit.

Tips:  An audio guide is included with admission and highly recommended.  Take your time to learn and appreciate what went into creating the costumes you know so well.  Also, there are two levels of displays, so be sure to go to the second floor. The exhibit runs until April 1, 2018.

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The exhibit entrance displays the contrast between the sophisticated costumes of Padmé Amidala and a Jedi.

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One of the ornate costumes worn by Padmé Amidala. Fortunately, many displays are not encased in glass providing unobstructed views and photography.  The audio guide gives a brief insight as to how designers used costumes from different cultures.

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Princess Leia’s simple but royal, ghostlike costume from the first Star Wars movie. It is amplified by all the reflections in the glass.

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Three types of Stormtroopers made even more imposing on a raised platform. These are not encased in glass, and one of several displays providing great opportunities for selfies if so inclined.

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Close up view of blaster. If you look at the hand, you can see how big these are.

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Some of the more than 60 original costumes on display.

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In addition to the free audio guide, there are “secret” hidden interactive buttons near several displays. If you rush through, you might miss the button to emit a character’s sound (Chewbacca’s at this one) or ignite a light saber. 

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Princess Leia’s not so friendly disguise.

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Perfect display setting to get your picture taken with some favorite characters. Revelation from the audio guide:  Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO, in every Star Wars movie has never been able to sit down while wearing the full costume.  If you see C-3PO sitting down, he was always filmed from the waist up because the bottom part of the costume is absent.

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The power of costume: Many of the villians’ costumes look even more threatening in real life and up close.

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The Sith versus Jedi display provides great views from several angles. Tip:  Look for the buttons to ignite a light saber.  Hope you don’t hit the wrong button; May the force by with you.

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While you can get close to many of the characters and costumes, I kept my distance from Darth Vader.

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A recreated favorite scene with an Ewok.

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Yoda, one of the most popular characters, along with notable quotes on the wall. This may seem like the end of the exhibit, but there is more.

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On the second floor, some of the embroidery for Amidala’s costumes took a month to make, even though the onscreen moments were short.

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After fighting imaginary battles, you can relax at one of several restaurants with outdoor spaces right across the street.


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