Wardrobe once owned by C.S. Lewis will travel with Disney exhibit during the next five years
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition” opened at a VIP event June 5 at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix, kicking off a five-year worldwide tour that includes Westmont’s famed C.S. Lewis-owned wardrobe. The wardrobe, usually housed in Reynolds Hall on Westmont’s campus, is prominently featured at the beginning of the exhibition, which includes other items that Lewis used when he penned the seven-book series, “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
More than 300 adults and children attended the VIP event as Disney officials threw open the gates, revealing a new world of snow and ice.
“It’s fabulous,” says Doug Gresham, Lewis’ stepson. “It’s quite moving seeing all of Jack’s (Lewis’) things together with all the props and stuff from the set. It’s amazing. It really is a fantastic exhibition.”
Gresham, who works as co-producer of Disney’s Narnia film series, says he remembers the wardrobe at the Kilns, Lewis’ former home in Oxford.
“Even as a child, I always wanted to make Jack’s books into movies,” he says. “It’s something I have always dreamt about and it’s finally happening.”
In the exhibit, the wardrobe includes a plaque that says: “Wardrobes were common in England when C.S. Lewis was writing ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ Lewis himself owned several, including this one. Although Lucy calls it ‘a magic wardrobe,’ what the other children see is just a ‘perfectly ordinary’ wardrobe. Like this one, it’s ‘big’ and has a mirror (a ‘looking-glass’) in its door. Can you imagine why Lewis would choose such an ordinary entrance to the extraordinary world of Narnia? On special loan from Westmont College.”
From the first room, guests enter two large wardrobe-style doors, pass through several faux fur coats into the amazing world of Narnia. The exhibit includes hundreds of costumes and props from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian,” including a frigid throne for the Ice Witch and a live catapult demonstration. Dozens of interactive elements make the exhibit both educational and entertaining for children and adults. It takes about 45 minutes to walk through the entire exhibit.
“Narnia: The Exhibition” will remain in Phoenix through October. It is then slated to travel to Philadelphia. Westmont has loaned Disney officials the wardrobe for five years, and the tour will make at least two international stops.
Disney arranged for a special, pre-release showing of “Prince Caspian” for the Westmont community, including local alumni, at Paseo Nuevo theater in Santa Barbara May 10. Attendees received free popcorn and a copy of “Prince Caspian.”