New ALA traveling exhibit connects Harry Potter, real world sciences

Contact: Angela Thullen

ALA Public Programs Office

Program Officer, Communications



For Immediate Release

March 10, 2009

Apply by May 1 to host “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine”

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in cooperation with the National Library of Medicine (NLM), announces a new small format traveling exhibition to libraries, “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine.” Public, academic (university, college and community college) and medical libraries may apply to host the banner exhibition by downloading an application at In order to be considered, applications must be received at ALA by May 1.

Using materials from the NLM’s History of Medicine collections, the exhibition explores 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. Exhibition panels feature the works of 15th- and 16th-century alchemists, naturalists and occultists, and explore the intersection between the Harry Potter novels an Renaissance thinkers, lore and practices. More information about the exhibit, including educational resources, is available at

Following the application process, 12 libraries will be selected to host the exhibition for a four-week display period between September 2009 and November 2010. All libraries on the tour will be expected to pay for incoming shipping for the exhibition, which will range from $250 to $450, depending on the distance between sites. The exhibition is composed of six fabric panels mounted on self-supporting stands and measuring 7 ft. high x 3 ft. wide x 15 in deep; panels are printed only on one side. It requires 30 linear feet of space, or 300-400 square feet. For more information on “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine,” or to obtain an application, visit

Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has an exemplary track record of developing library programming initiatives, including the acclaimed reading and discussion series "Let's Talk About It!," film discussion programs on humanities themes, traveling exhibitions, LIVE! @ your library® and other programs. Recently, it has established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment fund created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming ( For more information on the Public Programs Office, visit