Early 1998 seems like forever ago! We had seen the Star Wars Special Editions the year before, and the Prequels were still over a year away from starting. So at this point, anything even remotely Star Wars related was an automatic road trip. October 31, 1997 is when the Smithsonian opened their Magic of Myth exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum, at the Mall in Washington DC. Luckily I had moved to Maryland a few years earlier, so it wasn't that far of a trip.
I wasn't there on opening day, but I know that I went pretty early in the exhibits lifespan. The exhibit was around thru January, 1999 before moving out to San Diego and other locations around the globe. After experiencing the exhibit once, I felt this was something I needed to document. So in early 1998 I made a 2nd trip with what was probably a borrowed camcorder, and I did my best to document the exhibit.
The video presented below walks thru the exhibit from start to finish, showing each display case in the order that visitors would see them. At the time, I had rented the headset that had an audio track, narrated by James Earl Jones, which explained mostly every piece in the exhibit. I had rigged the output from the tape deck, into the headphones but also put it through the audio in jack on the camcorder, so that Jones' sonorous tones would be captured as well. Well, that worked about as well as you'd expect, and the resulting soundtrack was static ridden and over modulated. It was probably the main reason I had not done anything with this video previously.
It wasn't until I realized that I had re-mastered MP3 versions of Jones' narration as made available through my Hyperspace membership, that I knew I should fix the audio. The Hyperspace team had posted two files in late-2005 that contained all the dialog for each exhibit. So, a few hours of audio editing later and I had replaced all the bad audio with a clean, pristine version.
So, without further discussion, I'll allow you to watch the walkthru of the Star Wars: The Magic of Myth exhibit from 17 years ago!
This second video, is the documentary that played on an isolated TV set, next door to the Star Wars exhibit. It's not the best, since even using a tripod I had to stretch it so high behind everyone's heads that the image bobs and weaves. And of course I had no direct input for the sound, so it's a little hard to hear. But technical issues aside, there's some great interviews in this documentary, from Harrison Ford discussing flipping switches on the set of the Falcon, to Ralph McQuarrie describing his contributions to the original trilogy. I hope you can enjoy this as glimpse into the past and an archival document for future historians.