Edmonton’s Prop Museum

by | Oct 14, 2019 | Culture, Date night, Downtown | 0 comments

You could take your date to another movie — not a bad option if you snag one of the Cineplex Great Escape packages from the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU) — but if you want a truly behind-the-scenes cinematic experience, then you ought to check out the recently opened Edmonton’s Prop Museum (EPM).

Located on 10838 124 St., the EPM is the reel deal when it comes to spending a fun afternoon or evening with your film favorites. While the museum’s hours will make sure you’re home before bedtime — it closes at 6 p.m. most days, 8 p.m. on Fridays — the impressive collection of props, costumes, and design work is guaranteed to have you coming back for more, and executive director Darren Bland’s enthusiasm is infectious. My partner and I were fortunate enough to take a tour of the museum on a quiet day and so had Bland all to ourselves. He talked us through each piece, explaining how certain props worked or were acquired, and even brought out additional pieces from storage for us to interact with. I’m not sure how many people can say they got up close and personal with the loincloth that Andrew Tiernan wore in 300 as the hunchback Ephialtes, but we did!

Bland opened the non-profit museum June 29 of this year as a way to share his passion for all things Hollywood — he’s been collecting props since 2007— and in so doing the EPM also serves as a way to preserve movie magic history. As we enter an age of virtual reality and ever-increasing CGI, Bland’s collection of costumes, prosthetics, and props serves as a reminder of the artistic vision and technical skill required to bring certain characters and concepts to life, and pays homage to the innumerable people behind those unforgettable moments.

There are even pieces that never made it into the final cut, including an amazing set of metal wings from an early design of the Vulture from Sony’s original Spider-Man franchise. That’s the one with Toby McGuire, for you young whippersnappers oohing and aahing over Tom Holland.

As writers, both my partner and myself are keenly interested in storytelling, so it makes sense that we would love the EPM experience. Movies, after all, are stories. But I was unexpectedly delighted by other aspects of visiting the museum, perhaps because Bland has diligently crafted a space in which everyone is free to indulge in their geekiest selves. There’s a pop culture satisfaction in recognizing certain pieces, such as one of the hobbling legs from Misery, not to mention a truly fan-specific joy in seeing the auto- graphed dental application worn by Doug Jones as Abe Sapien in the original Hellboy films. That’s part of the magic of Bland’s collection: nothing is a replica, everything on display in the EPM is what was actually used in the film or television show.

The educational aspect of this was also something I hadn’t fully expected. While I knew going in to the EPM that I was likely to come out with more information, I hadn’t counted on how much the experience would rekindle my interest, both in films that I’ve seen and ones I haven’t. Since going, I’ve found myself repeatedly saying, “Oh, I should rewatch that!” or, “Man, we really need to see this!” just because I want to see the film with the costumes or props specifically in mind.

Much like the movies and shows themselves, the EPM isn’t simply a one-and-done experience. The sheer size of Bland’s collection means that pieces will be rotated throughout the year, with new exhibits approximately every three months. Starting Oct. 2 through to Nov. 17 the entire museum will transform into a Halloween special. “There will be body parts and FX rigs galore!” according to Bland.

Tickets for the EPM are $15 — no word yet on a student discount — but the $45 Buddy ticket is a great deal in which two couples or four adult friends can spend just as long as a feature-length film at the museum, and even enjoy some theatre snacks from The Popcorn Shoppe on the way out.

Emily Campbell

The Griff


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