Get face to face with original 'Star Wars' artifacts

Visitors to "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" can get a close-up look at dozens of actual models, props, and costumes from the six films.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
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An original Yoda puppet, part of the 'Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination' exhibit. James Martin/CNET.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When George Lucas made "Star Wars" in 1976, he probably never imagined that artifacts from that film and the five that followed it would one day inspire a touring exhibition meriting the same fine-arts treatment as a Van Gogh show.

But that's exactly the case with "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination," a show that opens this Saturday at The Tech Museum of Innovation here. And though the exhibition has been touring for the last eight years, making its way through 19 other American cities, it has never before shown in Lucas' own backyard.

'Star Wars' exhibit offers rare peek at original artifacts (pictures)

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The collection, which includes 70 original models, props, and costumes from the six "Star Wars" films, offers the public a rare look at those items. Among them are everything from a Yoda puppet to an original R2-D2 to Millennium Falcon models, Boba Fett's blaster, and much, much more.

According to Laela French, the collection manager for archives at Skywalker Properties -- a company formed and owned by George Lucas after he sold Lucasfilm to Disney last year -- the artifacts in the exhibit have been handled as if they were fine-art pieces, much as they would be if they were part of an exhibit of Impressionist art. And, French added, it's important that everyone knows that the show only displays original artifacts.

Two members of the 501st Legion snap pictures at the press opening of 'Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination' at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif. James Martin/CNET

The exhibit will be at The Tech Museum through February 24, 2014. Once it's finished there, the artifacts will go back into the Skywalker Properties archives. Lucas' hope is that those archives, along with many other elements of his collection, will make up what is expected to be called the "Lucas Cultural Arts Museum," a finalist in the current competition for a plum building location in San Francisco's Presidio.