Forensics Comes To NYC

Discovery Times Square has recreated the magical realm of Hogwarts.  It has resurrected the secrets of the Titanic and Pompeii and has allowed Egypt’s boy king to have a starring role in heart of the Theater District.  Currently, the large-scale exhibition center is bringing the world of forensics science right to New Yorker’s fingertips with CSI: The Experience.

Ever had the temptation to walk the grid of a homicide scene?  Ever desire to play detective? Well, CSI: The Experience takes the game of whodunit to another level.  It is the game of Clue on steroids.  Gone is the notion that Professor Plum off the body with the candlestick as you roll dice and try to determine if your hypothesis is correct.  CSI: The Experience is a true interactive murder mystery that is enjoyable for the entire family.

Before you get introduced to the crime scene, you receive a clipboard and sheet which you will use to record your findings.  As new recruits, you receive a CSI vest and are briefed through a video featuring CSI: Crime Scene Investigation creator Anthony E. Zuiker and Dr. Gilbert “Gil” Grissom, played by William Petersen.  After the video you and your class of neophytes are guided through one of three crime scenes.  Each scene has five forensic lab stations and video messages from additional CSI: Crime Scene Investigation  cast members as well as professional forensic experts all trying to assist you with the finding the poltroon that committed the heinous act, using the data you collect.

Totally engaging and enlightening, CSI: The Experience is by far the best exhibit I have witnessed at Discovery Times Square.  Sure, it is fun and educational to peer at ancient artifacts and reflect how much humans have or have not changed since Eve bit the apple, but CSI: The Experience truly lives up to its name.  You are not just walking through the exhibit; you are a part of the exhibit.  CSI: The Experience is recommended for ages 12 and older. The video portions are presented in English and Spanish subtitles.  CSI: The Experience has a limited run at Discovery Times Square, located at 226 West 44th Street, and is open Sunday – Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Thursday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.  The average time to complete the exhibit is between 60 and 90 minutes.

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Photos courtesy of Edelman Public Relations


Gettin’ Muggle Wit It

Discovery Times Square is more like a time portal than an exhibition space.  With its knack for presenting shows that flawlessly harmonize history, culture and spectacle, Discovery Times Square allows New Yorkers to walk through ancient worlds and alternate universes without ever having to step into an airport.  On April 5 the world of muggles and wizards invaded the Big Apple as Harry Potter: The Exhibition opened at Discovery Times Square, marking its final North American Stop before the train to Hogwarts goes international. 

In June 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first in a series of seven novels written by British author J.K. Rowling, was released.  Its tremendous popularity spurred the ultimate 20th century homage – a film adaptation.  In 2001, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and the rest of the cast brought the characters to life onscreen and muggle-mania erupted.  In the last decade, fans of the series have watched these child actors grow into young adults and contributed to a franchise that is worth billions.  July 2011 signifies an end of an era as the last Harry Potter film will be released and the fates of the characters that have enraptured millions of devoted followers will be revealed.  Harry Potter: The Exhibition is an homage in its own right – a walk down memory lane, literally.

The exhibition is brought to fruition through the partnership of Global Experience Specialists (GES) and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.  GES is a leading provider of event, exhibition and retail marketing services.  Warner Bros. Consumer Products is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment Company and is one of the foremost global merchandising and licensing organizations. In 2009, the exhibition made its world premiere in Chicago; following its debut, it travelled to Boston, Toronto and Seattle.  The timing could not be more felicitous for Harry Potter: The Exhibition to be arriving in New York City; Daniel Radcliffe is blocks away at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre playing the lead character in the 50th anniversary revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Trying.  Like the other exhibits that have passed through Discovery Times Square, Harry Potter: The Exhibition scoops the visitors up and drops them off in the magical world created by the producers, set decorators, costume, graphic, prosthetics, make-up and props designers of the Harry Potter films.  Presented in nine connecting sections, the exhibit is an intricate, multifaceted exploration into the creative nuances of moviemaking. 

The show begins with the Sorting Hat, the famed headpiece that proclaims which house the new arrivals at Hogwarts will be placed into.  Volunteers come forth, and like the movie the hat is placed on their heads, comes alive, assesses the individuals’ personality and assigns them to either Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.  But the Sorting Hat does have a bit of assistance, before the dormant hat is placed on the volunteer’s head; the volunteer expresses which house they prefer.  Cute and witty, it is an appropriate introduction into the universe of Harry Potter and Hogwarts.  Next the group enters The Pre-Show, an eight screen montage of the Harry Potter films.  The video mosaic culminates with the whistle to the Hogwarts Express being heard and the wall of the Pre-Show rising to reveal a replica of the train that takes the students to Hogwarts. A colossal vision to behold, the replica along with the mist that accompanies it gives the audience the sense that they are about to embark on a journey of sight, sound and emotions. 

After the Pre-Show, the exhibition truly begins.  Guests are led past a gallery of portraits and the Fat Lady, the guardian of the Gryffindor area of the castle/school, into the third installment of the exhibition, the Gryffindor Common Room.   Gryffindor is the house that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, the series principle characters, belong to.  In this area the audience views the house colors (scarlet and gold), Harry’s glasses and wand, Ron’s monogrammed sweater and the Marauder’s Map.  Past the Gryffindor Common Room are the dormitories where the visitors can view more of the wardrobe and garner an understanding of the actors’ journey growing from children to young adults as the clothing shows their physical growth from the first film to the last.  The fourth set are the classrooms – displays of the props and costumes of the Potions, Divinations, Defense Against the Dark Arts as well as a recreation of the Herbology greenhouse.  This is one of three areas in which the touching of props is encouraged – visitors can pull a squealing Mandrake from its potted roots. 

Once out of the classroom area, the tour goes outside the grounds of Hogwarts into the Forbidden Forest – the audience can get up close and personal with the Hungarian Horntail Dragon, a Centaur and a Thestral.  Also displayed are Buckbeak the Hippogriff and additional costuming from the film.  The Forbidden Forest leads to Hagrid’s Hut, which is actually located on the outskirts of the forest in the book and film series.  This oversize room contains Hagrid’s clothing, the Monster Book of Monsters as well as a mammoth chair that visitors can sit in.   Quidditch is the sport of choice for wizards and is the next section of the exhibit complete with Quidditch equipment, a Nimbus 2000 broom, the Golden Snitch used in all the movies and uniforms from the different houses.  If a guest is feeling athletic, they are invited to toss a Quaffle around and try to score a point or two. The exhibit takes a dark turn as the next segment is dedicated to the darker elements of the films.  On display are the Angel of Death Statue, robes, costumes and masks of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters.  The tour of the enchanting world of Hogwarts and its inhabitants ends in grand fashion with the Great Hall.  The Great Hall is a setting that plays a major role in the film, visitors will view props and costumes from the Yule Ball, Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore’s costumes and wands as well as Dobby, the house elf, and Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore’s phoenix.

The exhibitions build in excitement and education with each setting seemingly more fascinating and fabulous than the previous one.   The price for admission for Harry Potter: The Exhibition is $25.00 for adults and $19.50 for children ages 4-12; an audio tour is available for $7.00.  The items of the exhibit are labeled with numbers and information about the artifact, with the audio tour the visitor can learn more information about the prop by the people that actually manufactured it.  Both the price for admission and the audio tour are worth every penny.  This exhibit is a must see for anyone that is a fan of the Harry Potter series or anyone that is a true movie buff.  I have never read J.K. Rowling’s books and I have not watched the Harry Potter film series in its entirety, but I found Harry Potter: The Exhibition to be a very enriching experience.  The concern to make these fictional characters and settings believable and the attention to the minutest detail is amazing.  When I arrived at Discovery Times Square, I was a muggle novice; I left feeling as if I had known and grown with the cast (human and non-human) as well as any Harry Potter fan and will be eagerly anticipating seeing how it all ends when the last film is released in July.   Harry Potter: The Exhibition, leaves New York City September5, go and indulge the wizard in you.

Photos courtesy of


Pompeii Rises from the Ashes

The Day After Tomorrow, Twister and Volcano are Hollywood’s idea of what a cataclysmic natural disaster would be like.  But in August 72 A.D., Mother Nature played out its own story when the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried alive under ash and pumice from a colossal eruption from Mount Vesuvius.  Very few natural catastrophes have ever rivaled the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum as an entire existence was obliterated in a 48-hour span.

Pompeii and Herculaneum was inadvertently unearthed in 1599 and was once again forgotten about until 1738 when Herculaneum was rediscovered by workers digging for the King of Naples’ summer palace.  Pompeii was found 10 years later.  In 1860, archeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli took charge of the excavations and had the spaces left by the victims of the eruption filled with plaster to create perfect casts of the citizens that were unable to escape.    Pompeii and Herculaneum also marked the first major find in the budding discipline of archaeology.


What made the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum such an ideal discovery was the cause of its demise.  The pumice and ash created a tomb for the municipalities and its occupants.  Everything about the Roman towns remained the same as it did when eruption began – lying undisturbed and waiting for human civilization to resurrect it from its petrified state.    More than any other find, Pompeii and Herculaneum gave people the opportunity to witness what daily life in the ancient world was like.   Now New Yorkers can incorporate this once thriving city and its surrounding town into their daily routine by visiting Pompeii the Exhibit: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius at Discovery Times Square.

Pompeii the Exhibit is a comprehensive exploration into the commonalities of the human existence – a visual display that reminds of the audience that the song “Everything Old Is New Again” rings undeniably true.  Over 250 artifacts are exhibited; we learn about Pompeii’s principle gods and goddesses, which were adopted from Rome, Greece and Egypt as well as view their money system, weights for measurement, a wall of graffiti, jewelry and a recreation of a room in a brothel.  Also included were utensils, beans, a loaf of bread and partially restored frescos. 

Perhaps the most creepy and bone-chilling aspect of the exhibit was the six-minute video that recreated the extermination of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the body casts and skeletal remains of those who perished.  Patrons enter a dark room with a screen.  Minute-by-minute the details of the eruption are witnessed as crashing, fiery effects are projected from the speakers and with a cold blast of air, the doors open to reveal the replicas of the citizens that endured the worst horror one’s mind could ever conceive.  But what is equally fascinating and daunting was that unlike the rest of the exhibit, reality had been exhumed and presented right before our eyes.  In other rooms of Pompeii the Exhibit: viewers could imagine a man entering the brothel room with his chosen lover or the gladiator that wore the helmet and shin guards that protected him in a glorious win.  But there was no need to imagine the pain that was wracked in the face of a chained dog as he twisted on his back or the man that covered his face with his tunic to avoid inevitable suffocation.    The room was filled with ghosts telling their story.

Pompeii the Exhibit: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius will run at Discovery Times Square, located at 226 West 44th Street, until September 5.  Like the King Tut exhibit, a portion of the proceeds of the exhibit will go toward the preservation of the Pompeii site.   Ticket prices range from $19.50 to $25.00 and the last tickets are sold 90 minutes prior to closing. 

Photos:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor, MWW Group

Tut Takes Manhattan

In June, the annual Tony Awards celebrated Broadway royalty, but the hottest ticket on the Great White Way actually belongs to one of the oldest royal figures to ever sit on a throne.  Tut-mania descended on Manhattan this spring when Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs made its debut at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, located on 266 West 44th Street.  New York City is the final stop on a world-wind tour that marks the last time the relics of King Tutankhamun will ever leave Egypt. 

This is not the first time that the boy king has captivated the Big Apple. In 1979, The Treasures of Tutankhamun (King Tut) exhibition was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs has 50 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb, only a portion were shown during 1979 exhibit, as well as 80 additional artifacts from the tombs of his ancestors and other high-ranking notables.



Ever since the tomb of the ancient pharaoh was unearthed in November 1922 by Howard Carter, he has been shrouded in mystery.  Who was King Tutankamun?  How did he die?  Was he murdered?  Who were his parents?  Tutankhamun was one of the last kings of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty.  Although, much of his life is still unknown due to the eradication his records and those of his ancestors by ancient Egyptian officials, the world knows more about Egypt’s most popular ruler than it ever has before.


 Tutankhamun was the son of pharaoh Akhenaten and Kiya, one of Akhenaten’s minor wives.  His birth was believed to be around 1343 B.C.  His father created upheaval during his reign by moving the country’s capital from Memphis to Akhetan, now known as Amarna, and banning polytheistic worship in favor for the new, monotheistic religion of Aten.  In 1333 B.C., Tutankhamun ascended to the throne at age 9 or 10.  At 12, Tutankhamun married his half-sister, Ankhesenamun, Akhenaten’s third daughter by his wife Nefertiti.  During his reign, King Tut moved the country’s capital back to the city of Memphis and reinstated polytheistic worship.  The boy king also changed his name from his original moniker of Tutankhaten, to Tutankhamun (meaning “the living image of the god Amun”) in recognition of the state’s rejection of Aten.  Tutankhamun died from unknown causes in 1323 B.C. while in the ninth year of his reign.  He left no successors; the mummified fetuses of two stillborn daughters were found in his tomb. 


An X-ray taken in 1968 exposed damage to his skull, which could have been caused by a fall, blow to the head, or during mummification and caused Egyptologists to contemplate the theory of foul play as a cause of death.  Recently, the boy king’s mummy underwent a CT-scan as part of a landmark, five-year Egyptian research and conservation project, partially funded by National Geographic, in an effort to inventory and scan all of the known mummies in Egypt. This study debunked theories of assassination as the damage to Tutankhamun’s skull occurred after his death. DNA studies conducted in Egypt further showed that he suffered from malaria and may have died from complications from a broken leg.  Although King Tut’s remains lie in a climate-controlled vitrine in his burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition includes some of these scans as well as the first 3-D replica of the ancient pharaoh created by sculptor Gary Staab. 


Along with the amazing, life-like replica of King Tut’s mummified cadaver,   the exhibition displays the most splendid collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts anywhere outside of Egypt. Breathtaking…awe-inspiring… jaw-dropping…eye-popping…overwhelming, adjectives that fail to justify the majesty of what is to be discovered after stepping through the doors of the Discovery Times Square ExpositionThe antiques along with the narration of legendary actor Omar Sharif via headset intimately transport the patrons into the daily life of the boy king and those in his court.  Last month an additional item joined the exhibit, a chariot, which has been permitted to leave Egypt for the first time.  Of the six chariots that Howard Carter discovered in King Tut’s tomb, this antique from the Antechamber is exceptional because it is the only one that appeared to be used. The construction of the chariot was lighter and simpler than the other five.   There is speculation that it may have been used as a traveling chariot, on the battlefield, or on hunting expeditions. There is also a theory that King Tut may have died after a fall from this chariot.


The ancient Egyptian phrase “forever and for eternity” never felt as palpable to me as it did when I visited Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Perhaps it was the golden sarcophagus or the replica of Tut’s mummy that spurred the feeling, but as I walked through the exhibit I could feel the presence of King Tut.  Finally his story was being told like it never has before.  I also felt the spirit of Howard Carter, the archeologist that first revealed the pharaoh to us, and suddenly the exposition became otherworldly.  It was if a Stargate had been opened and we were all visiting an undisturbed dimension that has no concept of time.  A feeling of immense humility overcame me as I viewed the spectacle and glory of a culture that has influenced almost every civilization that has come after it.  I realized that with all our modern know how, we can never duplicate the wonder of these relics, which is raison d’être for our continued fascination. 


Considering the locale of the Discovery Times Square Exposition, the ticket price for Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is quite affordable ($29.50 for adults, $26.50 for seniors and $19.50 for children) and part of the ticket sales is helping to fund a new Grand Museum in Cairo.  Broadway has played birthed and played host to countless stars, but none is as incandescent as Tutankhamun. This exhibit will remain in the Big Apple until January 2, 2011 when the boy king and his gilded chariot return to Egypt to rest for good.  FAMERS do not miss this exhibit.  It is an experience that you will take with your forever and beyond.

Photos:  Andreas F. Voegelin and Sammlung Ludwig

Slideshow:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor