Countless theoretical/numerical studies on transport and mixing in two-dimensional (2D) unsteady flows lean on the assumption that Hamiltonian mechanisms govern the Lagrangian dynamics of passive tracers. However, experimental studies specifically investigating said mechanisms are rare. Moreover, they typically concern local behavior in specific states (usually far away from the integrable state) and generally expose this indirectly by dye visualization. Laboratory experiments explicitly addressing the global Hamiltonian progression of the Lagrangian flow topology entirely from integrable to chaotic state, i.e., the fundamental route to efficient transport by chaotic advection, appear non-existent. This motivates our study on experimental visualization of this progression by direct measurement of Poincare sections of passive tracer particles in a representative 2D time-periodic flow. This admits (i) accurate replication of the experimental initial conditions, facilitating true one-to-one comparison of simulated and measured behavior, and (ii) direct experimental investigation of the ensuing Lagrangian dynamics. The analysis reveals a close agreement between computations and observations and thus experimentally validates the full global Hamiltonian progression at a great level of detail. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.