‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Aug. 24, 2011 | 7:15 a.m.
ind 018 props idol 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Chachapoyan fertility idol prop from "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 props arch 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Ark of the Covenant prop from "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 props nurach2b2d6f Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

The urn containing the ashes of Nurhachi, a prop from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 props stone 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Sankara Stones props from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 props graal 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Holy Grail prop from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 props mask 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Francisco de Orellana's death mask prop from "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 props skull 2b9763 ang Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A crystal skull prop from "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

espace e Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

indy1 e Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

archeo e Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

indy2 e Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

compagnon e Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A man looks at a display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

ind 018 arte plaque 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

An embossed gold plaque from A.D. 500-900 Panama, on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

ind 018 arte bowl 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A bowl from A.D. 1-700 Peru, on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

ind 018 arte cup 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A Greek drinking cup, probably from Vulci, Italy, around 480 B.C., on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

ind 018 arte double spouted vessel 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A double-spouted vessel from Peru, A.D.1-700, on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

ind 018 arte funerar 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A funerary stela from 1938-1759 B.C. Egypt, on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

ind 018 arte leaf 11x85 300ppi Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A gold leaf wreath from Iraq, Ancient Ur, around 2500 B.C., on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

ind 018 arte papyrus 11x85 ang Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

A papyrus fragment from 1279-1213 B.C. Egypt, on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Penn Museum)

poster crop Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

The poster for "Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology: The Exhibition" includes a geeky wink; on the poster, below Indy's shadow's left knee, are R2-D2 and C-3PO in the hieroglyphics. (Lucasfilm)

ark Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Ark of the Covenant prop from "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

To mark the 30th anniversary of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” a touring exhibition is spotlighting famous props from the Indiana Jones films and putting them side-by-side with real archaeological artifacts. The exhibition, called “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology,” features the Ark of the Covenant from “Raiders” and the Holy Grail from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” as well as objects from ancient Peru, Egypt and Iraq, all on display in a museum space inspired by Hangar 51 and ancient temples. Lucasfilm teamed with National Geographic and Montreal’s X3 Productions to produce and curate the exhibit, which started its six-year international tour at the Montreal Science Centre and will head overseas next month. No dates have been scheduled in the U.S. as yet, but Hero Complex readers can get a glimpse of some of the objects in the gallery above (be sure to turn the CAPTIONS ON). Our Noelene Clark chatted with some of the creative forces behind the exhibition: Kyra Bowling, exhibits manager at Lucasfilm; Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeologist, explorer and National Geographic’s archaeology fellow; and Geneviève Angio-Morneau, co-project manager at X3 Productions.

poster crop Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

The poster for Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology: The Exhibition includes a geeky wink; on the poster, below Indy's shadow's left knee, are R2-D2 and C-3PO in the hieroglyphics. (Lucasfilm)

NC: So how did this project come about? Why Indiana Jones?

KB: At Lucasfilm, with the release of the last film, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” I think everyone was just so delighted with the kind of lasting power of the character and the franchise. We’d never done a formal Indiana Jones exhibition before, so the light-bulb moment went off. … Here we are, several years later.

FH: Let me tell you the perspective from National Geographic’s in-house archaeologists, because that’s what I am, and it’s a very special hat to wear, to use an Indiana Jones idiom. I normally deal with what I call the Indiana Joneses who come to National Geographic to do real research, and it’s an amazing group of scholars that we have …. A great number of them have been inspired by the films of Indiana Jones. It’s like a whole generation. I used to teach at the university where in Intro to Archaeology — Archaeology 101 — one of the first questions that I always ask is, “How many of you were inspired by Indiana Jones?” What’s amazing is that this is the 30th anniversary of the first Indiana Jones film, and these students are like 20 years old, and 70% of them raise their hands, saying they were inspired by the films. That is one of the world’s most awesome inspirations that could happen. It’s almost like Indiana Jones is the world’s most famous archaeologist. Even now. He’s not a real person, but he’s had an incredible, incredible impact on the field of professional archaeology, both at the university, and here, now, that I have the great honor to sit at National Geographic …. We are all inner Indiana Joneses. Every archaeologist has a little bit of that adventure in them.

NC: In watching the movies, you always wonder how much of it is like real archaeology, how many of the objects in the the movies are based on real artifacts.

FH: The really cool thing about getting to know Kiera and the whole Indy brand is the real, genuine interest that George Lucas and the whole operation had in being inspired by real archaeology to create the Indiana Jones films. And we really feel that. I mean, Indiana Jones is Hollywood. It’s got to be some of the best Hollywood I’ve ever seen, right? I mean, it’s great, it’s action-packed, it’s adventure.

KB: We kind of address that question point-on in the exhibition. We take a look at the inspirations behind the stories that you see in the films, and give the visitor the ability to see the origins of those stories, and the realities of those stories, and where fact meets fiction, and to go into depth about the real-world archaeology behind some of those fun adventures in the films.

GAM: One of the main ideas was to have an exhibition that would focus, yes, on the artifacts and the props and the costumes and the artwork from the Lucasfilm Archive, but also to have real artifacts …. We might be coming across visitors [making] their first contact with real archaeological objects, so doing an exhibition about archaeology, this was a really important part of the concept for the exhibition. It was also one of the biggest challenges to have these two completely different collections living in the same space, so when we designed the exhibition, we made sure that these objects were in separate actual spaces. We designed the exhibition as kind of a mirror effect.

raiders of the lost ark harrison ford spielberg Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

NC: How much did you draw on the films for choosing the real artifacts in the exhibit?

GAM: When we did the research for this exhibition, one of the opportunities we had was to meet the researchers behind the fourth Indy movie, and it was just amazing to see how much time they spent researching and documenting certain subjects. When they do the documentation, they’re not even aware of the whole story line yet, because it’s obviously very top secret, and they only saw the movie when the movie came out with everybody else.  So these researchers worked for three years, working into the minute details, for example, of Mayan architecture and Mayan art. So from an exhibition content point of view, there’s a lot of material that we’re just tracing the steps that the Lucasfilms researchers did. We had more than enough material. We had actually too much material, so we had to make a lot of choices as to what to keep for the exhibition …. As opposed to a behind-the-scenes that you see in a movie when you get the extras and all that, you’ve got the real objects in front of you. You’ve got the props that Harrison Ford handled, and the other actors with him, and then you get that information, so there’s an emotional connection that’s stronger than seeing something when you just have photographs on a screen.

KB: We love that Indiana Jones is so popular, and that it’s a natural hook to bring visitors of all ages into a museum, but once they’re there, we’ve got such a wonderful opportunity to then teach them a bit about field archaeology and some of the basic principles therein.

ark Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

Ark of the Covenant prop from "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," on display at the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition at the Montreal Science Centre. (Lucasfilm)

NC: Is there any prop or artifact that you really love or think stands out?

KB:  By coincidence, I also have a background in archaeology, and when I saw the first “Raiders” film, I saw it about 10 times in the theater, so for me, the Ark of the Covenant prop is always just kind of this reverential thing. I remember the first time I saw it in our archives here, it was an aaaah (singing) moment, so seeing that in context now, finally in a museum setting in a wonderful exhibition like this, is a real delight for me on many levels. The fact that we have one of the oldest-known, if not the oldest-known map in the world in the exhibit to me is just phenomenal.

GAM:  From the Indy collection … one of the crystal skeletons. It’s the recent movie, but just the way it was designed, it was one of the most striking objects that you see at the end of the exhibition. It’s just humongous, and the workmanship is pretty impressive when you’re standing right in front of it. We have a series of nine pots from Nazca in Peru. It just fascinates me how these objects have managed to survive all these years and have these beautiful colors, beautiful artwork, drawings on there of animals and humans.

FH: The photo albums of Hiram Bingham, who was our first sort of rock-star archaeologist 100 years ago. He documented the fabulous city of Machu Picchu. This year is the 100th anniversary of that. We have his original photographs. It is kind of amazing. Hiram Bingham was an archaeologist, but he was also a photographer. And there’s a picture of him standing in front of his tent at Machu Picchu with his hat on, and I’m thinking, that is Indiana Jones, and that’s 1911, and then there’s the Indy films, and then there’s today, us looking at him, at Hiram Bingham, and thinking, wow, 100 years ago, and him inspiring Hollywood. The one point in the exhibition where all the different threads of the themes of the exhibition come together. It’s Hollywood, it’s the origins of archaeology, it’s ancient discovery and civilization, it’s that tingle of seeing something that nobody’s seen for hundreds of years, through the lenses of the camera …. If there’s one thing that can be sort of a synthesis of it all, for me, that’s where it lies in the exhibition.

– Noelene Clark

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Comments


8 Responses to ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ exhibit whips up Hollywood and history

  1. Ian Mega says:

    The small white captions on the photos are impossible to read, even when I enlarge/zoom the View.

    You need to re-caption these below the photos.

  2. noelenecy says:

    Hi there Ian,
    If you click the "CAPTIONS ON" button, you'll be able to read the text at a normal size.
    Thanks!
    NC

    • engtech says:

      That's bad usability.

      no interaction: says "CAPTIONS ON" (do I click to turn on captions? I thought it meant captions were on — because I can see captions in the photos they are just impossible to read)

      click on it: says "HIDE CAPTIONS" (now I can can see captions)

      click on it again: says: "SHOW CAPTIONS" (now they're little again)

      If you defaulted to having the captions shown, then maybe we could figure this thing out.

  3. Ben says:

    "It’s Hollywood, it’s the origins of archaeology, it’s ancient discovery and civilization, it’s that tingle of seeing something that nobody’s seen for hundreds of years, through the lenses of the camera …. If there’s one thing that can be sort of a synthesis of it all, for me, that’s where it lies in the exhibition." – For an archaeology major who just had his first archaeological experience in the field this summer, that closing sentence sums up the beauty of the science of Indiana Jones. Great article!

  4. Casus says:

    that Crystal Skull does NOT belong there.

  5. @RyanTee82 says:

    The Ark of the Covenant prop was on display at the now-defunct San Francisco Planet Hollywood for some years in the mid-1990s. I think it should go in the Smithsonian along with the Grail prop. The Ruby Slippers are there!

    • Jack says:

      Yes, I agree with you. I did a google search to see if it became a coffee table in some ones home. Glad to see it is on display somewhere.

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