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News Release 08-063

Star Wars Exhibition Brings Reality to Fantasy

Hollywood meets engineering in exhibition touring the United States

Photo of Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder, on display for the first time.

Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder is on display for the first time.

April 16, 2008

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

An exhibit developed by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Lucasfilm, Ltd. explores the possibility that some of the robots, vehicles and devices of the Star Wars films are closer to reality than one might think.

The exhibition--now at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., through May 4--showcases landspeeders, R2D2 and other icons as engineering design challenges and highlights how researchers are currently pursuing similar technologies.

"We were surprised and delighted when we were developing the exhibit, to discover that many scientists working today were inspired by the fantasy technologies in the Star Wars movies," said Lawrence Bell, senior vice president at the Museum of Science and the lead investigator for the project. "We developed the exhibit with the goal of continuing that inspiration for the kids who will be the next set of future scientists."

Developed with the support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition carries its messages with the help of film clips, props, models and costumes and invites visitor participation with hands-on exhibits and activities.

"By reaching more than 1.25 million visitors so far on its national tour, Star Wars is demonstrating the power of popular culture to engage both children and adults in activities that increase technological literacy," said David Ucko, deputy director for NSF's Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings Division, who oversaw the Museum of Science grant.

Following its stay in Philadelphia, the exhibit will next head to the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn., on June 13, 2008.

View a video news release about the exhibition.

The original exhibition Web site is at:

The Franklin Institute exhibition Web site is at:

An official press kit with additional images is available at:


Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, email:

Program Contacts
David A. Ucko, NSF, (703) 292-5126, email:

Principal Investigators
Lawrence Ball, Boston Museum of Science, (617) 589-0282, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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