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Enter a secret world of science and spectacle Magic: The Science of Wonder opens Friday, Feb. 26, 2010


BY Alex Wang [ February 08, 2010 at 16:45:02 ]

The Principles of Magic from HMNS on Vimeo.


HOUSTON - Magic-illusory feats of wonder that dazzle the eye and confound expectations-has fascinated humanity for centuries. Mesmerized by the masters of illusion who perform this mysterious craft, we’re drawn to the spectacle, curious to discover “How did they do that?”

Though their methods are enshrouded in secrecy, magicians combine the art of performance with a variety of scientific disciplines, including math, physics and psychology, to create their dazzling effects and fascinating illusions.

With a touch of hocus-pocus and a dash of abracadabra, the Houston Museum of Natural Science pulls a spectacular new exhibition out of its hat—Magic: The Science of Wonder, opening Friday, February 26, 2010. The extraordinary show examines how science and magic are intertwined through more than 100 fascinating artifacts and mesmerizing live performances. Magic is the perfect subject to inspire people of all ages, especially kids, to learn about the science behind magic and the world around them.

“In a way, it’s Science that gives us the language to experience Wonder. It’s the head-on collision of the two that inspires an unexpected feeling within...that’s what magic is all about for me,” said Scott Cervine, guest curator of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. “It’s no accident that Magic’s greatest innovators are often inventors or scientists first, who then become smitten with their own feeling of amazement and want to share it with a larger audience.”

Presenting an array of artifacts connected with legendary performers of the past and present, the exhibition will also feature film and video clips of famous magicians, as well as guest illusionists performing live.

Among the many intriguing artifacts to be featured are torches for fire eating; magic lanterns and automatons; Harry Houdini’s trademark milk can and water escape trunk; Harry Blackstone’s “Zig Zag Girl” prop; Mike Caveney’s linking coat hangers; and items from the acts of Doug Henning, Penn & Teller, and other superstars of magic.

Walk Through the Exhibition

As visitors enter Magic, they will immediately pause at the impressive sight of a giant keyhole, which creates a feeling of ‘peering in’ to a secret room. At the end of the corridor, the ornate stone bust of a beautiful woman, modeled after Adelaide Herrmann, one of the feminine figures of magic history, stands seven feet tall. The eyes of the statue are closed, but her spirit draws visitors just the same.

Walking through the eccentric hallway that leads within, a glance from side to side reveals translucent walls and images of 22 well known magicians, such as Robert-Houdin, Harry Houdini, Blackstone, Dai Vernon and many other legends.

Then, travel through the history of magic. Learn how this mystical art began; meet famous magicians who transformed the art from the earliest recorded illusions, dated back to the first century A.D., to the present day, and find out how popular writers such as Chaucer and Rabelais used the colorful metaphor of the magician in their works.

Marvel at sensational relics used to ‘wow’ audiences – like the mysterious rapping hand illusion; a flea circus; and cups and balls—the earliest recorded illusion, this classic deception, in which the magician makes three small balls vanish and appear under three cups, is now known throughout the world.

Enter the Hall of Principles and discover different principles of magic (click to play video) through visual illustrations: appearance; disappearance; restoration; penetration; suspension; levitation; transformation; and transposition.

Then, discover the Women of Magic. See photographs, posters and props used by past performers, followed by contemporary women Magicians including Tina Lenert, who combines mime, story and magic to create her award-winning act.

Next, experience an all-new illusion by entering a life-size replica of Alexander Herrmann’s private train car, created especially for this exhibition. Known as Hermann the Great, Alexander traveled from one magical performance to the next by train with his wife, Adelaide ; this powerful illusion —where visitors experience something akin to a séance led by the spirit of Adelaide Herrmann herself —is designed for only the bravest visitors.

Finally, enter a live theater, built from the ground up especially for this exhibition. At just under 100 seats, the theater’s ornate proscenium and red velvet curtain create a feeling of intimacy for visitors’ live encounter with one of our many award-winning Magicians.

Many, many other surprises are in store. The Houston Museum of Natural Science invites you to step out of everyday life and into a world where amazement lies around every corner.

Magic: The Science of Wonder, developed by the Houston Museum of Natural Science in partnership with Movies From The Heart, is generously supported by Weatherford International Ltd. and HMW Entertainment.

Magic: The Science of Wonder runs from Feb. 26 through Sept. 6, 2010. Tickets may be purchased online, which is recommended due to the expected popularity of this exhibit. For more information, visit the museum’s web site at www.hmns.org.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science—one of the nation’s most-heavily attended museums—is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, including the Wortham IMAX® Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center , Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Houston Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at One Hermann Circle Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.


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