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Five cool things to see in 'Star Wars and the Power of Costume' in St. Petersburg

By Caitlin E. O'Conner, Times Entertainment News Editor
SCOTT KEELER | Times The exhibition, Star Wars and the Power of Costume, featuring more than 60 original costumes from various Star Wars movies, opens this weekend to members of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg and to the general public on Monday at the museum. Front is Queen Amidala from The Phantom Menace, 1999 and other costumes.

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force?

That would probably be the landing of "Star Wars and the Power of Costume" at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, earlier this week. I got a preview of the blockbuster Smithsonian exhibit (docked in our corner of the galaxy through April 1), and I’m here to tell you the Force is strong with this one.

Jedi nerds will obviously love it. Fashionistas will love it. Pop culture and history geeks will love it. Younglings will love it.

The exhibit features more than 60 costumes used in the movies along with props (lightsabers, helmets and Yoda’s purse — oh my!), concept drawings and plaques explaining the historical factors the designs draw on. Tickets are $25, $18 ages 7 to 17, free children 6 and younger; $10 members. (727) 896-2667. mfastpete.org.

Here are five of my favorite things in the exhibit.

1. The Chewbacca button

The exhibit is actually interactive in several places, but sorry, light-up lightsabers, you have to let the Wookiee win. Near the Chewbacca costume, made of pounds and pounds of yak hair, you can feel a sample of the fur, and the button in the middle triggers a handful of Chewie’s signature growls.

, 2. Padmé’s Journey

Upstairs apart from the regular exhibit is a room dedicated to the many outfits of Padmé Amidala. Some, like the red Throne Room Dress, are in the main exhibit, but the separate gallery has the wedding dress, the torn Battle of Geonosis outfit and that gorgeous backless, ombre rainbow number. It’s an ode to the franchise’s haute couture element.

3. The wear and tear

Hard to believe, but some of the costumes here are 40 years old. They’ve been impeccably maintained, but you’re able to get so close to Leia’s white dress you can see the rust on her belt and the wear on her boots. It does a little to drive home the reality that these are the actual costumes Carrie Fisher (RIP) wore decades ago.

4. The old + new

The military room puts the original trilogy next to 2015’s The Force Awakens. You can see the differences in the Empire’s stormtroopers and the First Order’s, along with Rebel and Resistance pilots. This room is also a favorite because the plaques have photos of the inspiration, including Nazi uniforms that influenced Imperial officers’ costumes and Mercury astronaut spacesuits that influenced X-wing pilots.

5. Details in the
big displays

The best thing about some of the big, whole-room displays like the Jedi vs. Sith or the Senate isn’t the most-recognized costumes in them. It’s the lesser known costumes maybe super fans will recognize — see Luminara Unduli in the Jedi vs. Sith — or the strange props you didn’t expect — see Palpatine’s super gross fake fingernails in a case near his costumes.