MINNEAPOLIS -- If your passion for the "Star Wars" saga has yet to get lost in space, you might consider visiting the newest exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
"Star Wars: The Magic of Myth" opened last weekend in the stately-pillared dowager on Third Avenue in south Minneapolis, with patrons pouring through the flashy exhibit at 400 per hour, 10 bucks a pop.
So plan ahead. The show is attracting attention in much the same way that George Lucas' film trilogy did, suggesting "Star Wars" fans just can't seem to get enough.
"Its popularity is certainly part of why we brought the exhibit to the Twin Cities," MIA's public relations coordinator Muriel Morrisette said in an interview this week. "We are always trying to find ways to attract ... new people to the museum."
Developed by the Smithsonian Institute -- it ran in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., from October 1997 through January 1999 -- the show is jammed with artifacts used in the creation and production of Lucas' first three "Star Wars" films.
Its purpose, other than to entertain, is to demonstrate how Lucas' vision was rooted in "classical mythology and world culture," according to the exhibit's promotional and educational materials.
Original artwork, props, models, costumes and character sketches appeared or inspired actual scenes in the making of the "Return of the Jedi," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Star Wars: A New Hope."
A few objects from Lucas' latest "Star Wars" release -- Episode I, the Phantom Menace" -- were added for the national tour, according to museum officials.
Be warned that there's a serious note to the exhibit, as indicated by MIA curator Lotus Stack, who said: "The essence of this exhibition is not simply a particular movie, but rather the universal concerns that have been expressed in myths since ancient times."
She added, "In 'Star Wars' we see our own struggles to answer fundamental questions about our humanity -- the hero's journey, the conflict between good and evil, and the transformation from ignorance to knowledge."
But despite the cerebral appeal of the show, it should still be fun for "Star Wars" fans who are dying to find out what inspired Lucas and his creative team in the making of the landmark series of films.
An 11-foot production model of the Imperial Star Destroyer, for example, greets the visitor at the entrance to the exhibit, which will run in the Dayton Hudson Gallery through June 4.
Princess Leia's white gown from "A New Hope," as well as the costumes worn by Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, can be spotted inside the exhibit. Or you can drool over the models of the famous droids C-3PO and R2-D2 and other favorite "Star Wars" characters.
In fact, the exhibit -- organized with Lucas' help -- leaves no stone unexposed in documenting the filmmaker's creative process as he developed the "Star Wars" sage.
The exhibit bulges with Lucas' original concept drawings and paintings, as well as storyboards and production notes deposited along the way. Gouaches, pencil on paper, ink on paper and oils are also featured, according to the museum's literature.
Accompanying printed materials provide the intellectual link between Lucas' work and ancient mythology, including the filmmaker's debt to the past in his use of swords, sorcery and chivalry throughout the series.
If that's not enough, a 30-minute film documentary at the end of the exhibit examines the impact of "Star Wars" films on world culture, with on-camera snips and snaps from Lucas, as well as actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.
If you're still breathing after experiencing the avalanche of Lucas-donated artifacts, you can take a self-guided tour of holdings in the museum's permanent collection with similar dependence on mythology. That part of the show is free.
Advance reservations are required. Call (612) 870-6323.
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