Lasers and light sabers

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Star Wars at The Tech Museum
Text: Melissa Lewelling / Images: Lucasfilm

In a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas lit up the screen with light sabers, starships and intergalactic battles. Now that technology is in hyperdrive to the Bay Area with the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibition, opening at The Tech Museum of Innovation Oct. 19.

The Tech is the exhibition’s last stop on a 20-venue international tour that began in 2005 as a joint venture between Lucasfilm Ltd. and the Museum of Science in Boston, according to Michelle Tran, public relations specialist at The Tech.

“It’s bringing to life for people … the connections of science and reality and how we live in that,” Tran said. “What you’ll see in the exhibition is that there’s a connection they’re trying to make (between) the magic and the technologies in the film (and) how those technologies can come to life.”

The exhibition features more than 80 authentic costumes and props from the films, a hands-on design lab on robotics, a replica of the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit, the main spaceship from the original trilogy, as well as a few never-before-displayed pieces, according to Tran.

Gavin Higham, a junior computer science major at SJSU, is a Star Wars fan and said it’s “really neat” to be able to examine models used in movies and see the level of care not always visible from the screen.

“One of the things they had in the (original) movies was a lot of miniatures — incredibly detailed miniatures,” he said, “and I would love to see some of those up close.”

The Tech’s exhibit is likely to reach a younger audience who’s more aware of the CGI-modified version of the films than the original that used puppets and props, Higham said.

“For younger people who haven’t been exposed to older Star Wars as much, I think they might marvel at the cleverness of how these things were put together,” he said. “Maybe seeing something right in front of you … will actually get them interested in the original movies more than they might be.”

Kristen Martin, labs manager at The Tech, said the exhibition also includes real-life products and technologies that were inspired by the film and focuses on how imagination influences scientific discoveries.

“I think for kids it’s really neat to see how something that was imagined and is fictional then inspired (someone), maybe another young person, to grow up and actually turn that imaginative design into a real life product,” she said. “I’m hoping that kids coming in school groups will see that and then they’ll be inspired.”

 The Star Wars exhibition will run at The Tech from Oct. 19 to Feb. 23, with tickets ranging from $9 to $22. At the end of the run, several pieces will go on display at the Smithsonian, according to Tran.

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