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Westmont Loans Wardrobe to Traveling ‘Narnia’ Exhibit

The college acquired the treasure 34 years ago from C.S. Lewis’ Oxford home.

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Westmont College’s famed C.S. Lewis wardrobe will take a five-year journey with “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition,” a state-of-the-art presentation based on the Disney film series and Lewis’ beloved fictional books.

The exhibit, premiering June 7 at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, features artifacts from Lewis’ personal study as well as the wardrobe.

The 10,000-square-foot educational exhibit escorts guests on a tour of myth, magic and adventure through iconic environments such as the famous attic and wardrobe that served as the portal into the Narnia adventures. It includes authentic costumes, props and set dressings from the films portraying the literary fantasy world of Narnia.

In 1974, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Arthur Lynip and 30 Westmont students studying literature in England learned that the historic wardrobe was still at The Kilns, C.S. Lewis’ Oxford home.  The last remaining piece of Lewis’ furniture in the house closely matches the description in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe of a wardrobe that is “big,” “perfectly ordinary” and “has a looking-glass in the door."

The unusual size of the wardrobe explains it having been left in The Kilns. After the house was remodeled, the 1901 wardrobe was too big to remove from its upstairs room without taking it apart piece by piece. As a result, the wardrobe was not auctioned with Lewis’ other belongings and seemed destined to be destroyed until Westmont students learned of its existence. Students purchased the wardrobe sight unseen from the new owner of The Kilns, and Lynip engaged a cabinetmaker to dismantle the wardrobe, crate it and ship it to Westmont College.

The college, which has displayed this treasure for 34 years in its English Department offices, has loaned it to the five-year traveling exhibit. After viewing the wardrobe and other Lewis artifacts, guests will pass through a portal into a wintry Narnian world, complete with falling snow and cold wind. The tour continues through the White Witch’s ice palace, Cair Paravel and additional displays and environments from upcoming films.

In October, the exhibit will move to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. It is expected to visit about a dozen venues during the next five years, including two or three stops overseas.

The exhibit coincides with the opening of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. More than 500 Westmont alumni and their families watched two private screenings of the film Saturday in Santa   Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo Theater.

Click here for more information about the exhibition.

Scott Craig is Westmont College‘s media relations manager.

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