May 19, 2008

'Star Wars' invade Museum as exhibit is set to close


'Star Wars' invade Museum as exhibit is set to close

By Sarah Owen
of The Northwestern

A wide-eyed Isaiah Toelle surveyed a life-size costume sheathed in imposing glass case, educating grandmother Loretta Peterson about the outfit inside.

"And the 'Indiana Jones' one is over there," the 9-year-old said, pointing across the display room inside the Oshkosh Public Museum Saturday afternoon, the last weekend of exhibit "Out of this World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television."

Suddenly, though, all attention from the display area was diverted, and a swarm of squealing kids and parents flocked to the hallway where "Star Wars" storm troopers combed the museum.

Toelle and brothers David, 6, and Benjamin, 7, all visiting grandma Peterson from Michigan this weekend, rushed to meet the live actors, members of the local 501st and Rebel legions on hand to meet guests.

A storm trooper extended a handshake to Benjamin Toelle, and the youngster took it hesitantly, saying, "R2D2's over there; he blew smoke at me."

The museum brought back more than a dozen "Star Wars" characters Saturday to mark the final weekend of "Out of this World."

"We started the exhibit by inviting (them), and they liked it so much, plus the visitors liked it so much, we said we really ought to do this again," said Mike Breza, museum assistant director. "When we can invite groups like this to be part of an exhibit, I think it really makes it so much better."

And inquisitive young minds met their favorite characters with confidence, not shy about asking questions of even "Star Wars" villains.

"Is Darth Vader showing up? Is he angry?" Benjamin Toelle asked actor/storm trooper Dan Weichman, to which Weichman said, "he's always angry."

Forty-nine costumes and props made up the exhibit, organized by and initially debuted at Seattle's Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, including Jones' trademark leather jacket and whip and Dan Akroyd's apparel from "Ghostbusters."

"Everyone really liked it – from little kids all the way up to the senior-citizen range," Breza said of the exhibit.

The museum will be closed Monday through May 23 while crew disassemble the "Out of this World" display. The next exhibit, "The Tsar and the President" is slated to open July 12.

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