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Experience the World of 'The Hunger Games'

Relive the journey of Katniss Everdeen during the latest tour stop of The Hunger Games: The Exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts

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Photo by Drew Altizer Photography. © 2016 Drew Altizer. All rights reserved.

The Innovation Hangar at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is currently home to The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, which will be running through July 31. For fans of the hugely successful film franchise, this exquisite exhibit is 12,000 square feet and features seven galleries (District 12, The Tribute Train, The Capitol, Making The Games, District 13, Katniss’ Journey and the Fan Gallery), 46 costumes, over 1,000 authentic props from The Hunger Games film sets and various interactive displays. (A personal favorite: Cinna’s interactive sketchbook, where you can learn all about Katniss Everdeen’s gorgeous dresses and Mockingjay armor.)

At a recent press event, prior to the opening of the exhibition, actress Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen) and actor Elden Henson (Pollux) spoke about being a part of one of the biggest franchises in film history, what they enjoyed revisiting during The Hunger Games: The Exhibition and what they hope their passionate fan base will take away from the experience. 

Shields shared that her life “has changed pretty drastically,” as the young and well-poised actress was only 10 years old when production on the first Hunger Games film started. “I’m 15, so the biggest thing is that it’s taken up a huge chunk of my life which has been incredible, because I kind of grew up on set,” she said. “I grew up with Jen [Lawrence] as sort of a mentor to me and family member, you know the whole cast was really a great support system growing up. It’s definitely changed my life a lot, you know, having fans recognize you places is always still a strange feeling to me. It’s definitely new. It’s pretty cool.”

For Henson, the actor said that he still couldn’t believe that he was even in the Mockingjay films. “These things are a phenomenon, so I just feel very lucky to have been in it,” he said. “When you shoot for nine months on something, you really get to know people and I made some lifelong friends.”

The new exhibition serves as a way for the franchise to continue on not just for fans of The Hunger Games, but for the actors themselves. “I still don’t think I’ve decided that the franchise is over, because it really isn’t, in a way,” said Shields. “We’re doing this now, so it is really living on past the film’s release date. I think everyone figured premiere night of Mockingjay - Part 2, we were going to be crying. We kind of were inside, because it was our last premiere together, and it’s really exciting to show the film to the fans, but we still get to do stuff like this.”

For diehard fans of the films, the exhibition is nothing short of a treat.

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(L–R) Elden Henson (Pollux) and Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen) in front of the Tribute Parade Chariot at The Hunger Games: The Exhibition. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography. © 2016 Drew Altizer. All rights reserved.

You can retrace Katniss’ steps from her humble beginnings in District 12, hunting with Gale and picking up the actual iconic mockingjay pin for her sister Prim at the Hob, to boarding the Tribute Train and reliving the infamous “That is mahogany!” scene to sitting down for an interview with Caesar Flickerman in the Capitol and visiting Beetee’s lab and shooting your own propos in District 13. And of course, there’s the costumes. From Katniss’ stunning wedding dress from Catching Fire and Mockingjay armor to Effie’s insane high heels and Peeta’s white suit from his time being held captive at the Capitol during Mockingjay - Part 1, many of the authentic costumes can be seen throughout the exhibition, taking viewers right back to the films.

“I love that fact that you can see all the costumes in person,” said Shields. “That was one of the things when I was a kid I was like astounded by seeing in person. … I love seeing Effie’s costumes in person … because you get to see up close how much detail went into them. I just think that’s cool because you learn more and more about other things too. I went through the exhibit and I learned [things about the films] that I didn’t know.”

In addition to Effie’s elaborate costumes, the one prop that Shields really enjoyed seeing was the original mockingjay pin. “It holds a lot of significance for my character, because Katniss gives it to Prim in the beginning in the first film. Prim gives is back to Katniss, because she feels that she needs it more than herself at the moment,” she explained. “So I think it’s a big symbol of hope for my character as well as Katniss and everybody else. It is something, that in a sense, I wish I had taken home, but now I realize that is was better not to, because now it’s in this amazing exhibit and everybody can see it. But that’s the one prop that I was excited to see.”

Being that Henson was only in the third and fourth installments of the film franchise, he was really looking forward to seeing items from the first two films. “I got to experience it like a fan,” he said. “I had obviously seen the movies, [but] to be able to see all that stuff up close is really cool.”

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Photo by Drew Altizer Photography. © 2016 Drew Altizer. All rights reserved.

When asked about why The Hunger Games books and films had such a strong impact on their fans, the actors found that relatability seemed to be key. “It’s kind of hard to imagine, because it’s such a different world,” said Shields. “Teenagers read [the books], and I think they can relate to characters on a certain level, I mean, there’s love, there’s heartbreak, there’s sacrifice. There’s all these aspects that people have to experience in everyday life.”

Both actors agreed that The Hunger Games: The Exhibition is presented in a way that fans can experience the films they love on a whole new level. “There’s so many cool things in there where you can take pictures, said Henson. “Hopefully they’ll feel like they’re more a part of it.”

Shields added, “I think it’s just such a fun experience. I was a fan of the books, and to be able to go in there and literally feel like you’re a part of it and fully immerse yourself, and learn more that you didn’t know in the books or the films is really exciting, so I think fans will love that full-on experience.”

The Hunger Games: The Exhibition is open now through July 31. For more information, please visit www.thehungergamesexhibition.com.