Visiting the Fantastic Harry Potter Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia

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There might be no more popular franchise to emerge in the last 40 years than Harry Potter. And, as a fan of the books and movies, I was excited to learn about the Harry Potter exhibition at the Franklin Institute.

Officially titled, Harry Potter: The Exhibition, this special show is currently on its world-premier run in Philadelphia from February through September 18, 2022. And, if you are a fan of these books and movies, this is definitely an experience that you’ll want to check out.

The Harry Potter exhibition is located in the special exhibit space at the Franklin Institute where they’ve had previous shows ranging from the Terracotta Warriors to robots. This space, which requires a separate admission ticket from the normal museum ticket, is 20,000 square feet in size.

Entrance to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia with a Harry Potter banner on the front
Harry Potter: The Exhibition can be found at the Franklin Institute.

It should be noted right away that the focus here is on the films instead of the books. That being said, some of the settings from both have been recreated within the exhibit, so those that prefer the books certainly won’t be disappointed.

Wanting to check out the exhibit, I, along with my wife, who is an even bigger Harry Potter man than I am, visited the Franklin Institute on a beautiful spring weekday. Visiting on a weekday afternoon definitely cut down on the number of people in the exhibit.

I’ve been told by friends who visited on a weekend that it can get quite crowded on weekends despite there being both timed tickets and a limited number of tickets sold.

Portrait Gallery at Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia Pennsylvania
There are so many fun aspects from Harry Potter brought into the exhibit.

During my visit, I was in the exhibition for about 90 minutes, which gave me enough time to do all of the activities and read pretty much all of the signage. If it’s a busy day, however, it might take you longer, so make sure to take that into account.

The exhibit starts by receiving a golden snitch bracelet, which you will use for interactive elements throughout the exhibit. You set it up by entering your name, taking a photo, and choosing both a virtual wand and Patronus.

Woman doing a potion at Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia PA
There are a variety of little games you can play throughout the space, though kids will enjoy this part the most.

It’s worth noting that many of these interactive elements are more designed with kids in mind. As an adult, I found them to be, for the most part, not worth the few seconds of time it took to complete them.

After setting up your bracelet and following the path to the start of Harry Potter: The Exhibition, you enter into a large zoom with a short introduction video that mostly highlights scenes from the films.

A second room allows you to put your name on the Maurader’s Map, which is one of the most fun uses of the bracelet, and contains another short video and a very cool recreation of Hogwarts. 

People enjoying Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia PA
There are two introductory rooms before you get into the heart of the display.

Once through these two initial rooms, the rest of the museum allows you to explore at your own pace through the many wonderful displays that are set up.

The first portion will excite fans of the movies as it contains robes and other costume props from the movie, divided into the Hogwarts Houses that each wizard was from. These include costumes worn by the three main characters, as well as many other instantly recognizable people from the films.

Gryffindor robes at Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia PA
Robes worn by the three main characters in the films.

There is also information about each of the Hogwarts Houses and the traits that the wizards in them possessed. 

Beyond this room, the Harry Potter exhibition recreates a variety of spaces in the spirit of the movies, though they aren’t exact replicas. These include spaces as varied as Harry’s room under the stairs, the classrooms at Hogwarts, and Hagrid’s hut.

The most impressive, however, is the recreation of the Grand Hall. This room combines actual tables with video effects and cycles through many different iterations of the Grand Hall seen in the movies.

Grand Hall recreation at Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia Pennsylvania
The recreation of the Grand Hall is one of the exhibition’s most impressive spaces.

Throughout these spaces, you’ll also find a variety of props from the films. While the primary focus on these areas is obviously the eight Harry Potter films, the subsequent Fantastic Beasts movies and “The Cursed Child” play are also featured.

There are also places in the exhibition where you can use your bracelet to do things like creating a potion or casting a spell. These are mostly just simplistic actions on a monitor that are more likely to be of interest to children than to adults.

This is definitely one aspect where I feel like Harry Potter: The Exhibition could have been better. If you are an adult, I wouldn’t bother waiting in a long line to complete these actions.

Potions classroom at Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia PA
The recreated Potions classroom in the exhibit.

Unsurprisingly, at the end of the exhibition, you have to pass through the Harry Potter gift shop to leave the area. I found the prices to be quite expensive here, so make sure to bring plenty of money if you are looking for souvenirs (such as a $10 bottle of butterbeer).

Overall, I found Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute to be really well done. It was great seeing so many actual props from the movies. Plus, the chance to enter into that environment a bit via the many different themed rooms was a ton of fun.

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, this is definitely an exhibit that you won’t want to miss.

Tickets for Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Clothing props at Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia PA
There are many great props from the films to see in the exhibition.

Tickets are available now for Harry Potter: The Exhibition, and they do sell out several days in advance for popular dates. If you have a specific date and time that you’d like to visit, I definitely recommend getting tickets as soon as possible.

Tickets for daytime admission are $43 for adults and $39 for children between 3 and 11.

Daytime tickets include admission to the entire Franklin Institute. This is a really wonderful museum (and is fun for both kids and adults), so I definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve never been.

If you want to save a bit of money, you can get evening tickets for $30 per person which only include access to the Harry Potter exhibition.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Please Touch Museum, and Reading Terminal Market.

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