There's an exhibit on Narnia, opening Friday, in at The Franklin in Philadelphia. It includes costumes from the movies, props, interactive exhibits (see more by clicking on the exhibit preview video) Sounds great, right? But, disturbingly, The Franklin is using the Narnia exhibit as a vehicle for environmentalism. At least, that's how they are marketing the exhibit. From the website:
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition takes you on a magical tour where sets, original props, and newly created interactive exhibits drive home a powerful real world message about our stewardship of the environment.
How heavy-handed will the message be? Hard to say, from looking at the exhibits and workshop descriptions, it looks like it's mostly a geology program with a thick Narnian veneer. One part of the exhibit does touch on--you guessed it--man's impact on the climate.
Don't get me wrong: I like the planet, and I love Narnia. I would be happy to visit The Franklin twice...once for the Narnia exhibit, and once for an interactive session on global geology. But to market an exhibit on Narnia as a "powerful real world message about our stewardship of the environment" strikes me as totally wrong-headed. First, the environment was not Lewis' point. Second, Narnia's environment, at least in the first book, was disrupted by magic, and magic returned it to normal. Earthly environmental issues are not so easily pinned on any one thing, nor are they easily cured (and some would argue, natural processes need no cure). Third, do the curators believe that any child enchanted by Narnia is going to be primed for a lesson in Earthly ecology? Really? I find that children are offended by those who try to so dupe them.
All that said, the exhibition runs through April, and yes, we will go. ;)