The British Library in London opened the doors to “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” on October 20, with pre-sales of the tickets topping 45,000. A celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Bloomsbury), the exhibition captures the international traditions of folklore and magic, which fueled J.K. Rowling’s imagination and underpin the series.
Organized by the subjects studied at Hogwarts School, including Potions, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, the exhibit includes treasures from the British Library’s collection of rare manuscripts and books, loans from international institutions and other national institutions, as well as original material from both Bloomsbury’s and Rowling’s own archives. Highlights of the exhibition include Rowling’s handwritten list of the professors and subjects at Hogwarts; the Ripley Scroll, a 500-year-old, six meter-long manuscript that describes how to make the Philosopher’s Stone; a picture of a phoenix rising from a 13th-century bestiary held in the British Library; the tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, a real historical figure who features in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Following a sneak preview of the exhibition, Rowling tweeted a photograph of Nicolas Flamel’s headstone.
American fans will be able to enjoy “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” at the New-York Historical Society in October 2018, when it opens to mark the 20th anniversary of Scholastic’s publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. A companion book will be published at that time by Scholastic in the U.S.