Harry Potter: A History of Magic opens today at the British Library in partnership with Bloomsbury and Google Arts & Culture. The exhibition will run until 28th February 2018, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic is a journey to where magic and myth began – combining centuries-old British Library treasures with never before seen material from Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. Highlights include The Ripley Scroll, a 6-metre-long alchemical manuscript dating from the 1500’s that describes how to make the philosopher’s stone, a celestial globe dating from 1963, made by Vincent Coronelli and brought to life using augmented reality technology, an annotated sketch of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by J.K. Rowling, original artwork by Jim Kay and a mermaid allegedly caught in Japan in the 18th century.
Prior to opening, the exhibition has already sold over 30,000 tickets – the highest amount of advance tickets ever sold for a British Library exhibition.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic will be accompanied by varied learning and events programmes, with over 11,000 free tickets made available for schoolchildren across the UK. Adult courses will also be available on a range of themes including Witchcraft in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, magical illustration and fantasy fiction.
In addition to the exhibition at the British Library, twenty public libraries from across the UK will be joining together for the first time to present their own interpretations of Harry Potter: A History of Magic. Libraries will draw from their own collections and regional connections to magical traditions and folklore to make displays. The exhibition will be travelling to New York in Autumn 2018 at the New-York Historical Society following its run at the British Library.
Bloomsbury will be publishing the official companion books, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, a lavishly produced, full colour coffee table book that makes the exhibition experience available to everyone, and Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic, which is aimed at a family audience. Digital editions of both will be published by Pottermore with enhancements allowing the content to be navigated in multiple, digital-first ways and featuring additional visuals of exhibition artefacts. A US companion book will be published in Autumn 2018 by Scholastic, the US publishers of Harry Potter.
Alongside the exhibition opening, BBC Two will be broadcasting an hour-long documentary at 9pm on Saturday 28 October, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, charting the journey of the exhibition, from object selection by the curators to opening night, as well as exploring other historical magical traditions and folklore and including interviews with J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.
J.K. Rowling said “The British Library has done an incredible job. Encountering objects for real that have in some shape or form figured in my books has been quite wonderful and to have several of my own items in the exhibition is a reminder of twenty amazing years since Harry was first published.”
You can find out more about the exhibition here