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On The Road: Star Wars And The Power Of Costume At The Cincinnati Museum Center Inside Union Terminal

Capture Kentucky is proud to present a new series that we’re calling, “On The Road”. While our main focus will always be all the things that make our Commonwealth so great, we will be posting articles that feature things we see and do within our travels outside our home.

In this first installment, we took the short trip across the mighty Ohio River into Cincinnati. It’s there where we made our way to The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal. While the majority of the Museum is under a long renovation, the Children’s Museum and the traveling Smithsonian exhibit that features Star Wars and the Power of Costume are both open for business.

This article is all about the latter. Star Wars and the Power of Costume is an exhibit, that on its surface may seem a bit pricey, but I’m here to tell you and show you that it is money well-spent. Even if you are just a casual fan of the Star Wars franchise or if you happen to be a die-hard fan, rest assured there is something there for everyone. The best part? No Jar Jar Binks! Haha

The exhibit presents over 60 hand-made costumes that cover all seven movies within the franchise. That means you can see costumes from the original trilogy which began in the 1970’s all the way through today, all in one spot. These costumes aren’t lesser known characters or useless props, these are the characters that are absolutely iconic.

Each section of the exhibit is presented in “chapters”. There are nine total, and each chapter showcases a unique aspect of the how and why of each costume. Presenting information that are both visually stunning and informative. See how the vision of George Lucas became a reality through concept art, storyboards, costumes and props. See where much of his inspiration came from and how Star Wars became the most-beloved franchise in history.

The chapters are as follows, Introduction: Dressing a Galaxy; Jedi versus Sith: Form, Function and Design; Concept and Design for Royalty and Beyond; Symbolism and Military Power; Outlaws and Outsiders; All Corners of the Galaxy: The Galactic Senate; After the Throne: Padmé’s Journey; Darth Vader: Iconic Villain; Droid™ Design. I’ll try and highlight a few things that really stuck with me and you can simply set back and enjoy the view!

As you begin your adventure you are treated to a short video that explains what the exhibit is all about. Once you get up the ramp, you’re immediately met with the Jedi robes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Sir Alec Guinness Obi, not the Ewan McGregor Obi. If you’re like me, you’ll stand there slack-jawed for a moment and then realize you’re holding up progress. Haha There are some great concept art pieces as well as an original drawing idea for the opening screen crawl, so be sure and check those out as well.

Once inside the Jedi versus Sith exhibit, you’re met with a huge display that includes the robes and light sabers of Darth Maul, Mace Windu, the Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luminari Unduli. You’ll also see the Jedi robes of Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi. The robes of young Anakin Skywalker, as well as the robe and light saber of Emperor Palpatine. Be sure and read the story about the Darth Maul concept art, you’ll get a chuckle.

The ladies from a galaxy far, far away have some of the most elaborate costumes within the Star Wars universe. So it’s no surprise to see that a large part of the exhibit focuses on Princess Leia, Queen Amidala, Queen Jamil, Queen Apailana and their hand maidens. None are as iconic, at least in my book, as the two costumes from Princess Leia. You are able to see the white outfit she is wearing in A New Hope, as well as the controversial and rather revealing slave outfit where she was held captive by Jabba The Hut.

I spent the most time in the Outlaws and Outsiders portion of the exhibit. Why you ask? Well for me, my favorite Star Wars characters were always the space cowboys. Be it good or bad. Here you will find the iconic costumes of Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Zam Wessell, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Fin and Rey. Seeing the Boba Fett costume so close was the highlight of the day for me.

Next up was the Droid Design section. Here you will see the three robots that made believers out of every Star Wars fan. C3-P0, R2-D2 and the newest addition to the galaxy, BB-8. Be prepared if there are kids on the tour with you, because there will be joy and it will be loud. My ears are still ringing, but it was a beautiful moment!

The next chapter is one where art imitated life. Drawing from real life, George Lucas took aspects from different cultures, eras and wars to create the chapter that showcases the Symbolism and Military Power. You’ll see a Stormtrooper, a First Order Stormtrooper, Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Pilot suit and much more.

In the All Corners of the Galaxy: The Galactic Senate chapter, you’ll see many costumes from Palpatine as he moved up the ranks, as well as Senator Amidala, Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Mas Amedda and Sly Moore. My personal favorite costume was the reptilian-like suit of Chancellor Palpatine.

The character of Padmé Amidala was one of the most constantly evolving characters in the Star Wars series. In the Padmé’s Journey chapter, you’ll see many of the most impactful moments of her on-screen appearances. None more iconic than the wedding gown she wore at the secret wedding of Anakin and herself.

The next two sections will need no words. Why? Because their names alone will tell you all you need to know and why they’re so cool. First up, Darth Vader: Iconic Villain.

One word, Yoda.

After the exit through the fully expected and seemingly required gift shop, you can catch one more exhibit. The original trilogy sold millions and millions of toys. It was an unprecedented marketing campaign that change the way things are sold. The company behind the toys? Kenner. Their headquarters was located within walking distance from the museum in Cincinnati. It’s old address was 912 Sycamore Street. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and if you know a Star Wars fan who would like to see it, I hope you’ll pass it on. Remember, the Force will always be with you.

For more information about the exhibit and to purchase tickets, visit the Museum’s site here.