This May, one of the most popular TV shows in the last decade came to an end. Ten years in the making, the Emmy-award HBO series, Game of Thrones, stirred the imaginations of thousands; the show follows the struggle of a select characters residing in an alternate medieval period, fighting for survival and power over the realm of Westeros. In the making of this epic story, there is no denying that the visual style and aesthetics played a major role in making the show stand out; from the costumes adorned by memorable characters, to the meaningful props that appeared on show.
In the years it took to make this show, with thousands of objects made, many of them with such intricate detail, there must be a use for them after the show, right?
So the idea to share it with the public as a touring exhibition was brilliant. Even more brilliant that it began in Belfast, where majority of the filming took place (Winterfell, the Trident, the Iron Isles). Many extras used on the show were also from Northern Ireland, sparking a tourism boom for the country. The exhibition makes use of the Titanic Exhibition Center (TEC) Belfast on the Titanic Quarter.
Upon entering the building, the theme song of the show, composed by Ramin Djawadi, sets the mood. The flow of visitors is controlled—visitors are asked to reserve a timeslot to visit the exhibition as a way of crowd management. Given the popularity of the show, this system makes sense. Even when inside, visitors are asked to wait so as not to crowd the exhibition floor all at once, which was taken into account, with visitors being offered their first of many photo opportunities at the exhibition entrance.
This pre-exhibit area succeeds in building the hype and anticipation as groups wait their turn to be led in. Visitors are taken into a hall lined with flags of family insignias from the show, and a montage plays on a screen, recapping all 8 seasons, further setting the immersive experience. Finally, the visitors are led to the exhibition hall and treated to the familiar sight of costumes worn by the actors are displayed to convey a scene from the show—for example, the fineries of Joffery Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell’s wedding, played by Jack Gleeson and Natalie Dormer, are put on display, including the lavish accessories that went with it. This set was flanked by the costumes of other characters; Cersei (Lena Headey), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), among others.
The exhibition also displayed familiar weapons on the show—Arya’s Needle, Eddard Stark’s Ice, and Sandor Clegane’s dagger, sword and dog-helmed armor. The range of costumes and armory also covers the northern region of the story—The Night’s Watch and their enemies the Wildlings. With each exhibit, fans of Game of Thrones can admire the finesse and quality of the props and costumes created for the show, as well as reminisce over certain storylines. Some areas recreated settings from certain scenes in the show, like the eerie crypt of Winterfell. The objects came alive with the surrounding setting, posing Daenerys and her entourage in a throne room replica, or the Night Walkers in the backdrop of snowy landscapes, truly brings the exhibition to life. At some point, the exhibition approach alternates between atmospheric displays, to “family halls”, which displaying costumes and props based on prominent family insignias from the show (House Bolton, House Arryn, House Martell, etc).
Towards the end of the exhibition, visitors can have a bit of fun in the Hall of Faces, where they can take a picture and see it displayed on a vertical digital screen.
The Game of Thrones exhibition caters to the fans of the show, opening the audiences’ eyes to the art behind the art, of the range of talented craftsmanship that went into making the show what it was.
The exhibition is now in now open in Madrid, Spain. You can read more about the exhibition here.
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ASMA AL JAILANI (Asma A.J) is an Emirati writer and poet based in sunny Abu Dhabi, UAE.
She works as a communications professional by day, and a writer and poet by night (and on
weekends). In her free time (almost always at night), Asma spends her time writing short
stories and possible chapters of a possible novel, scribbling poetry or blogging about books.
She also writes articles on Medium.com on a range of topics, including personal growth and
women empowerment. Her opinion pieces have been featured on The National, a widely
read English newspaper in the UAE. Asma is a founding member of Untitled Chapters, a
homegrown initiative by Emirati women for Emirati women. Untitled Chapters allows
female Emirati writers the space to grow in their craft and share their written work with
their targeted audience.