World of 'Avatar' coming to Seattle's science-fiction museum
"Avatar" director James Cameron and Paul Allen are collaborating on an interactive exhibition about the blockbuster film to be unveiled at Seattle's Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum in June.
Seattle Times movie critic
"Avatar" director James Cameron says he and Paul Allen — co-founder of Seattle's Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum — "love to geek out together" about science fiction.
That friendship has led to something tangible for Seattle's sci-fi fans: "Avatar: The Exhibition," a collection of memorabilia from the 2009 blockbuster film, will be launched at the museum beginning June 4.
The exhibit will include some 40 to 50 artifacts from the film, such as costumes, props, concept models and sketches, said museum associate curator Brooks Peck.
Also included will be several interactive displays in which visitors can experiment with concepts explored by Cameron while making the film: performance capture, virtual cameras, sound design and the Na'vi language created for the film. Regular ticket prices will apply to the exhibit.
"Avatar," a science-fiction epic set in the year 2154, became the highest-grossing film of all time, both in North America and worldwide.
Cameron, in a phone interview, said he's long been a fan of EMP|SFM. "What better place, I thought, to curate some of the artifacts from the making of the film?" he said.
The exhibit has been in the works for nearly a year, since "Avatar" arrived in theaters in late 2009. Cameron visited the museum and "walked the floor space" where the exhibit would be (the gallery currently titled "Homeworld" — the first room you enter in the museum), and staffers traveled south to visit Cameron's prop room and select artifacts with him.
Cameron said he's especially pleased that visitors can participate in much of the exhibit.
"I wanted to make it interactive," he said. "I wanted people to grab the virtual camera and look around within the virtual world of Pandora and get a taste of the experience, of what it's like making the film."
Among the artifacts will be the bow used by Zoe Saldana's character Neytiri (it's 9 feet long, Cameron said — "it reminds you of the scale difference between Na'vi and humans"). Busts of characters, soldier uniforms and other Na'vi props and costume pieces also will shown.
While these items didn't actually appear on screen in "Avatar," Cameron explained that everything created digitally had to be created physically first, "so they could be scanned and modeled and studied in terms of how the lighting worked and so the actors could get a feel for them.
"People think because it's a CG [computer-graphics] movie that everything is created in the computer, but we had to create everything in the real world first."
The exhibit will stay at the museum through Sept. 3, 2012, then go to other cities.
Cameron, now at work on two more "Avatar" movies (to be in theaters in 2014 and 2015), says he's reserved the right to "pull back" anything needed for the sequels. But he's happy to have the artifacts on display.
"I don't keep much from my films," he said, noting he kept only the ship's wheel from "Titanic" and a small statue of Neytiri made by "Avatar" artists. "I'd rather put it where people can see it."
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.