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It’s magic

I’ve always been a fan of magic acts – I still remember seeing Doug Henning’s “The Magic Show” on Broadway with my dad when I was a kid – so I’m really excited about Magic!, the new exhibit at HMNS.

Running through Sept. 6, the exhibit illuminates the craft of the world’s greatest magicians, from 19th-century titan Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin through 20th-century wonders Slydini, Cardini and Houdini to today’s Las Vegas headliners, Penn and Teller.

Realizing some exhibits can be staid, museum brass wanted Magic! to “leap off the shelf,” said curator Scott Cervine. To that end, they enlisted a cadre of the city’s top illusionists to flaunt their skills on a specially built mini-stage. Visitors beware: Magicians mixing with the crowd may occasionally extract handkerchiefs from the ears of the unwary.

Creating wonder is magic’s goal, said Cervine, a Los Angeles prestidigitator and filmmaker, and museum visitors shouldn’t expect to learn how the great tricks are performed. What they will learn is the science at their core.

“You couldn’t have miracles without science — they’re two sides of a coin,” he said.

Olivia helps magician Richard Hatch with a trick

Olivia helps magician Richard Hatch with a trick

Tiffany and I attended the preview party last Thursday. The exhibits – art, video demonstrations, and all kinds of props and paraphernalia from the history of magic, including a milk bucket and wooden box that were part of Houdini’s escape acts – are cool enough, but there are also a number of actual magicians present, doing stage shows and close-up magic as well, and that really puts it over the top for me. Olivia and I visited on Saturday. Photography isn’t allowed in the exhibit, but we were there on a special tour the museum provided for a few local bloggers and their kids, and we had permission to take pictures.

Seeing magic tricks performed right before her eyes really captivated Olivia, and she wasn’t the only kid in attendance to be mesmerized by the sleight of hand.

Magician Richard Hatch prepares to bedazzle the kids

Magician Richard Hatch prepares to bedazzle the kids

She watched all of the videos all the way through, and put herself right up front for each subsequent magic act we saw. There are regular performances through the day, and a couple of magicians I wanted to see but didn’t get the chance to. I’m thinking a return visit, this time with Audrey as well, is in order. If you like magic, and especially if you have kids, check it out. More info on the exhibit, including some videos, is here and on the HMNS blog. My thanks to Erin Flis for the invitations.

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