Friday 20th Oct 2017
The British Library’s new exhibition is officially open, with donated items from J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury and beyond on display.
It’s time for a magical history lesson like no other, and we think you’re going to like this. From today, to 28 February 2018, Harry Potter fans and history lovers can visit the British Library and explore their new exhibition, filled with amazing Hogwarts class-themed rooms and the long, layered history of magic.
More than 100 artefacts in the exhibition are on display, all steeped in the magical and mysterious. Just a few examples include annotated sketches of Hogwarts by J.K. Rowling herself, ancient drawings about potion-making, Nicolas Flamel’s headstone, centuries-old Chinese oracle bones, crystal balls, broomsticks, beautiful illustrations of beloved Harry Potter characters, and so much more besides.
Themed by Hogwarts lessons, such as Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures and more besides, visitors can go from one beautifully decorated room to the next, and learn about our own Muggle magical history, but always run into nods from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world too.
For example, the Divination room has hanging teacups from the ceiling, a cheeky reference to Professor Trelawney’s morbid love of finding dark premonitions in tea-leaves. Spells such as ‘Alohomora’ and ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ are mysteriously whispered from the walls. In the Potions room, as well as examining old examples of real-life potion making, you’re also invited to play an interactive game to make your own potion, from a love potion to a memory potion.
The magic runs deep in many different ways. From one moment to the next, you can examine annotated pages from early drafts of Harry Potter books, to a real-life page from Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook. After all, much like one of J.K. Rowling’s centaurs or Seers, Leonardo was fascinated by what lay beyond the stars too.
Joanna Norledge, one of the British Library’s curators, explained the parallels between Leonardo Da Vinci and magic.
‘In [the notebook] he’s talking about the reflection of the light between the moon and the sun and Earth. Da Vinci was so ahead of his time, but he even got things wrong. But he was searching out for that meaning, and that’s where magic and learning and discovery all come together.’
There really is a lot to take in, and you can have a deeper look inside the exhibition here. Alongside the exhibition will be a number of exciting events, such as Harry Potter quiz nights, talks about the history of magic, panels, and more. And if you can’t attend the exhibition, don’t fear. You can still check out all the amazing artefacts featured in the exhibition with two new companion books, also released today.
The two versions are Harry Potter – A History of Magic and a family version, Harry Potter – A Journey Through A History of Magic. These books provide guides, fun facts and gorgeous spreads of the exhibition’s artefacts, so you can learn all about it even if you’re not able to make it. An enhanced digital edition of Harry Potter – A History of Magic, which comes with snazzy, interactive features to prod at, is also available from Apple. And, of course, if you prefer physical versions, these will also be available in print from Bloomsbury.
Oh, and one more thing. If you’re based in North America, you might be interested to know that the exhibition is coming to New York next year. You can read more about that here.
We hope you learn something new about the history of magic, whether Muggle or otherwise. Hermione would be proud of you.