Edmonton's Prop Museum pulls back the curtain on Hollywood scenes and characters

Darren Bland is breaking down the magic of Hollywood, one set of prosthetic teeth at a time.

The lifelong movie fan is behind Edmonton’s Prop Museum, which opened this weekend, and offers visitors a glimpse of the movie props, costumes and makeup that give our favourite characters life on the big screen.

“Everything here is screen used, worn by the actors….It’s all original and what you see is what you actually see on screen,” Bland said at the museum’s grand opening on Saturday.

The museum showcases the props, costumes, and effects that create special characters and scenes. 2:07

Bland started collecting movie props in 2007, when he was living in a work camp near Fort McMurray. He spent a lot of time on eBay, searching for props.

“The more you collect, the more people you know. Then you get opportunities to buy stuff that doesn’t usually go on the public forum.”

Wander through the museum and you’ll see everything from the prosthetic teeth worn by Wesley Snipes in the Blade franchise to the various moulds that contributed to creating the chilling visage of Hellboy.

There’s a bloodied arm that was used in the television series The Knick, and stacks of fake cash that have been flashed around on the big screen.

Bland admires the skills required to produce believable characters and scenes in movies. The premise of the museum, he said, is to take visitors through all of the steps leading to the creation of a particular character or effect.

Darren Bland is the founder of Edmonton’s Prop Museum, which opened in June 2019. (CBC/Scott Neufeld)

He worries that many studios don’t try to preserve the props and costumes they use in their films.

“I think it’s really sad. You see some of these back lots with iconic and historic movie props just disintegrating in the weather. Why wouldn’t you let people like us enjoy it and let other people be able to see it?”

The museum is a not-for-profit entity. Bland hopes to apply for charitable status next year, and eventually open props museums in other cities.

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