C-3PO and R2-D2 at the Fans Strike Back exhibit
Droids: Fan-made reproductions of everyone’s favorite protocol droid and astrometric unit, C-3PO and R2-D2.

You might have noticed an increased Imperial presence Third Street recently and while the Lord of the Sith won’t be patrolling the Promenade anytime soon, there is a new exhibition that’s just landed at the Santa Monica Art Museum showcasing more than 600 items from the Star Wars universe collected by fans and displayed for fans.

There are All Terrain Armored Transports, Imperial Sandtroopers, Dewbacks, lightsabers, droids, Wookies, Ewoks, blasters, bounty hunters and more, all from that most well known of galaxies far, far away. These aren’t screen-used props, these are items that have been collected and in some cases, constructed, by Star Wars fans from all over the world.

“All of these are unique because they are artifacts, so there is only one of a kind,” says Christoph Rahofer, Director of the Santa Monica Art Museum. “The exhibition is put together from collectibles, limited editions and vintage official Star Wars merchandise that people have collected, but the fun part is that a lot of these have been modified.”

Yes indeed, most male adults whose age begins with a four or a five will be reminded of all the cool Kenner Star Wars toys they had as a kid. Only now are we beginning to question the decision to open the packaging and actually play with them when in hindsight they should’ve carefully placed them in storage, still sealed, for 46 years.

The exhibition includes life-size figures, models, one-of-a-kind sculptures, figurines, photos, posters and costumes. Highlights on display include: Jabba’s palace, life-size Darth Vader, the Emperor’s throne room and Anakin’s Pod Racer, many of which will make enviable Instagram posts.

“Almost everyone has a Star Wars story. Fans are different all over the world and we’ve had the opportunity to meet them from a lot of countries where we’ve been able to hold this exhibition,” says Rahofer. “There is a unifying factor, obviously, Star Wars, everybody loves it. But they all have a very different approach to the same thing, which we find very interesting and sometimes funny, and sometimes very inspiring. So we’ve tried to put all that together in this collection.”

Rahofer says that one or two pieces are still to be delivered to the site, but he very much hopes it will be 100% complete in the next few days. And with the latest live action spin-off show Ahsoka just coming to the end of the first season, now is the perfect time to find an alternative source of Star Wars stuff.

In addition to an on-site merchandise shop, the experience will include fun photo opportunities using a Star Wars-themed photo booth and there will be a unique virtual reality experience where guests can enjoy a unique VR galaxy experience.

The Fans Strike Back is located at the Santa Monica Art Museum at 1219 Third Street Promenade and is open from Thursday to Friday, 2-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets can be booked online at SantaMonicaArtMuseum.com and cost $15.57 for kids aged 17 and under and $30.09 for adults. Group tickets require a minimum of 10 people and cost $24.08. Galactic credits aren’t accepted here, but a camtono of Beskar might grant entry.


Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.