Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in cooperation with the National Library of Medicine external link (NLM), presented a new, small-format traveling exhibition to public, academic and medical libraries, entitled “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine external link.”

Using materials from the NLM’s History of Medicine collections, the exhibition explored Harry Potter’s world, its roots in Renaissance science, and the ethical questions that affected not only the wizards in J.K. Rowling’s books, but also the historical thinkers featured in the series. Featuring fifteenth- and sixteenth-century views of the world and its creatures taken from the works of the period’s leading thinkers, alchemists, naturalists and occultists, the exhibition panels explored the intersection between the Harry Potter novels and Renaissance thinkers, lore, and practices.

Twelve libraries were selected to host the exhibition for a four-week display period between September 2009 and November 2010. All libraries on the tour were expected to pay for incoming shipping for the exhibition, which ranged from $250 to $450, depending on the distance between sites. The exhibition was composed of six fabric panels mounted on self-supporting stands and measuring 7' tall, 3' wide, and 15" deep; panels were printed on one side only. The exhibit required 30 linear feet of space, or 300 to 400 square feet.

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