EMP's Fantasy Exhibit Fit for Tolkien and Dragon Fans Alike

Unleash your inner nerd at this family-friendly display of fantasy literature and film props.

Edited by Laura Dannen With Angela Cabotaje May 3, 2013

EMP held a naming contest for the scaly beast with the six-foot snout, built by Seattle Opera Scenic Studios. Of the 902 names submitted, 10 were put to a public vote. The winner: Adalinda.

Here be dragons. The warning is plain enough. Locked behind bars in an EMP dungeon lies a villain in repose: a scaly animatronic dragon the size of a Mini Cooper. She sleeps, yet her breathing sounds ragged (and suspiciously like a couple of pugs snoring). The new permanent addition to the museum comes courtesy of Seattle Opera, a pro at dragonmaking for its Wagner Ring series, and is the centerpiece of EMP's new Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit that opened April 27. Her name is Adalinda. (And if you pull her tail, she wakes up.)

EMP (originally named the "Experience Music Project and Science-Fiction Museum," though I don't know anyone who's used the full title...ever) recently decided to turn over its science-fiction building to three dedicated galleries: one each for horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Each "wing" will have rotating artifacts examing the genre, with fantasy being the newest addition. For good reason.

"Fantasy has now completely outstripped science-fiction," says EMP curatorial director Jasen Emmons. Meaning: We can't get enough of the stuff, particularly in Seattle, where a Game of Thrones premiere inspires mania. It's not that we're strictly escapists—more surly realists, I like to think—but there's something aspirational about fantasy that appeals to a broader audience, says Emmons. Small in stature but big on heart, the Hobbit can defeat pure evil. Dorothy can take down the Wicked Witch with a bucket of water. Power of the powerless, so to speak.

And, you know, there are dragons and wargs and swords and stuff. In this exhibit, which is heavy on film props and costumes, the Cowardly Lion stands behind glass, next to a showcase of Princess Bride costumes and across the room from original manuscript pages from Lord of the Rings hand-edited by Tolkien. View the slideshow for an up-close look at the exhibit, with captions by Angela Cabotaje and Laura Dannen.

Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic
Ongoing, EMP, $12–$20

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