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Percy Jackson "Invades" Hellenic Museum

The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago is buzzing with the sights and sounds of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: A Look Inside the Lightning Thief.” The action-packed film, based on the popular book series by Rick Riordan, is the hottest thing since Harry Potter. The stories are based on figures from Greek mythology; the first was released in 2005.

On June 3, the museum opened the “Percy” exhibit and it’s quickly become one of their most popular exhibits ever. “It’s very exciting,” stated curator Bethany Fleming. “It’s been a mix of Greek and non-Greek people. We’re seeing a lot of Greek families who haven’t been here before, so many new people.” She indicated that the traffic has been steady, even during the week and in the middle of the day. “We’ve seen a lot of kids, ages 9-14, plus some younger ones. It’s a good mix. They love to see props from the movie, which are a big draw.”

The exhibition showcases authentic artifacts from the Twentieth Century Fox film of the same name, “displayed in settings inspired by the timeless mythology of ancient Greece.” Fans love getting an up-close look at some of their favorite props from the movie. They can even test their knowledge of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece at the “Lotus Casino.”

The curator discussed the evolution of the exhibit. “Our marketing and media relations manager’s son had read the book, and was so excited about the movie, which came out in February. His enthusiasm inspired me; I thought it would be cool to get some of the props and do exhibit,” she explained. “I contacted Fox, spoke to the archives people and acquired props on loan, and then we formulated a story. The book and movie use Greek myths for their stories. For example, Percy is named after Perseus. It’s all focused on myth.”

Fleming discussed the popularity of “Percy.” “Greek mythology remains popular with everyone, both Greek and non-Greek. Going off ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Twilight’ to fantasy, this popular genre has some history mixed in. ‘Percy’ follows that trend along with the everlasting intrigue of Greek myths. In fact, book two of the series focuses on different stories from ‘The Odyssey.’ The books draw from Greek history and mythology – something kids wouldn’t normally be exposed to on this level.”

The film stars Logan Lerman as Percy, and features well-known actors such as Melina Kanakaredes (Athena), Uma Thurman (Medusa) and Rosario Dawson (Persephone) and Pierce Brosnan. There are several other Greek actors in the film as well. It’s directed by award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Chris Columbus, famous for the “Harry Potter” films, as well as “Night at the Museum” and “Fantastic Four” and many others.

On June 29, the museum will host a DVD release party for “Lightning Thief.” Staff members will dress as characters from the film – including Zeus, Athena and Poseidon – so kids can “meet” the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus, and have the opportunity to win “Percy Jackson” DVDs or merchandise. The event provides fun for the entire family – games, crafts and more. Guests will get into the fun as well – word is that the movie’s young fans will also be dressing as their favorite film character or god or goddess of Ancient Greece. Lotus cakes will be served, plus nectar of the gods. The invitation reads, “Guests are encouraged to keep careful track of time so they don’t mistakenly spend years at the Lotus Casino!”

The world-premiere exhibit runs through September 4, 2010.

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