Star Wars Identities Exhibition: What Will You Become?
Your adventure into identity awaits
A couple of weekends ago myself and my three monsters took the train up to London to visit the Star Wars Identities Exhibition. Here’s what we thought and why you should go…
What is it?:
The Star Wars Identity Exhibition is a ‘Get to know the characters of STAR WARS™ on a whole new level and learn more about yourself in the process. Pick up your lightsaber. Your adventure into identity awaits.’ (Except you aren’t allowed to take your lightsabers, FYI).
Who is this Exhibition for?:
Anyone who loves Star Wars (or even just likes it), but especially recommended for those who want to learn little known facts, behind the scenes information, and for cosplayers.
What age is this recommended for?:
All ages, though parents might want to check the film age ratings for the first six films to decide if it’s suitable for younger children as film clips are shown throughout. Also the lack of toilet facilities make it difficult for nappy changes/very young children, as well as the location of the venue making it difficult to access for prams/strollers (no storage available). I took my 9yo, 12yo, and 14yo, who have different depths of devotion to the fandom (from ‘loves all things Stormtrooper’, to ‘came to see TFA with me three times’, and to ‘TFA, Leia and Rey are cool, but can leave the rest’).
All three enjoyed it and didn’t get bored (though at one point while I was taking a million photos of the spaceships, my 12yo did express a little impatience). Their favourite part was the interactive profile creation, and this kept them occupied while I took photos and took time reading the information panels.
So, what’s inside?:
A wide array of props, costumes, spaceships, artwork, and information about the first six films, plus a very small selection from the newer films, plus an audio trail linked to video posts around the venue exploring the science, genetics, physiology, and nurture vs nature in the Star Wars universe with relevant film clips. In addition, ten stations allow you, via a bracelet, to build your own Star Wars Identity into a fully fledged profile displayed at the end of the exhibit(and that you can have sent to your email to keep afterward). There’s also a shop full of exclusive exhibit merchandise (although rather pricey in my view), including some unique artwork, clothing, bags, Star Wars perfumes, etc. The focus of the exhibition is on Luke and Anakin, their origins and upbringing, and how although both had similarities in their lives, they ultimately chose very different paths.
What’s it like getting there?:
The exhibit is in the O2 dome on the Greenwich peninsular, with regular Underground train services, a car park if you’d prefer to drive, and bus links. You could also access it via a cable car (with no steps and disabled access) run by Emirates Airline, water bus, taxi or Uber.
The Exhibition is at the O2 in London until the 3rd of September, 2017. The website says it ‘will stop in twelve cities on its six-year world tour’, but as yet doesn’t list any other than the current one in London.
If Star Wars trivia or cosplay is your thing, this is a MUST go. The interactive profile is great for keeping the kids occupied, even the older ones including this 45 year old :P ). The exhibition is bilingual, presented in English and French. The shop selling exhibition merchandise currently has a month-long discount on all items due to May the Fourth (and some, but not all items are available to purchase online). You have to book a specific time slot to enter (and if you miss it, tough!), but once inside you can spend as much time as you like exploring (well, at least until it closes for the day). We spent 90 minutes in there and didn’t even realise it was that long (I wouldn’t have minded staying a bit longer but my monsters had really had their fill). You can wear a costume but…
…no masks or weapons (seriously, you don’t want to be carrying a replica gun around London anyway, but no lightsabers either). There’s no obvious disabled access (though they rather evade admitting this by directing you to refer to the website of the host venue. All I know is there’s no obvious lift and we had to go up and down several stairs and an escalator. On checking it via the O2’s website, they ask that you contact them by phone or email to arrange special access and to purchase a personal assistant’s ticket, and you may be required to show evidence supporting your requirements. No information regarding stroller storage is provided either), no on site toilets (though there are several outside in the O2 dome itself), the audio system is temperamental, and the lighting poor for photography (you’re also not allowed tripods. I got around this by leaning on the nearest convenient wall, ledge, or glass panel).
I also wasn’t happy that male and female were the only two options for gender on the profiles — couldn’t we at least have a neutral or non-specified? — although the rest of the options were entirely non-gender specific. On that subject, I was also slightly irked at the focus on two male heroes, but perhaps a future version would expand to include Rey?
It’s recommended that you buy tickets in advance as you are allocated a specific time slot for access — so if you turn up on the day and slots aren’t available for the next three hours, you either have to return later or find some entertainment around the Greenwich peninsular/O2 dome. There are things to do in the area, but it depends if you want to spend your money doing them rather than in the exhibition shop. The online ticket purchase is a bit clunky though — we tried to buy a family ticket for four, plus one separate ticket for my husband, but it wouldn’t allow us to set the same time so ultimately he decided not to go in (although that did make it cheaper, and he’s really not a fan).
As a Star Wars geek and cosplay addict, this was heaven to me, and it was great that my kids were able to wander around and do their profiles while I concentrated on my photographs (and I felt they could do so safely). I’d give it 8/10, though poor access for anyone not able-bodied lost it a couple of points.
For more information:
To view more photos, I have them posted at Spacefreighters Lounge: