Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition opens at the New York Historical Society

Harry Potter: A History of Magic, the British Library’s most successful exhibition, has opened at the New-York Historical Society. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the New York exhibition explores the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories and showcases a new selection of objects that are on view to the public for the very first time. The exhibition is on view from October 2018 to January 27, 2019.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic features centuries-old treasures, including rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the collections of the British Library, the New-York Historical Society, and other museums, as well as original material from publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. The exhibition is accompanied by a special audio tour featuring the voice of actress Natalie Dormer — available to ticket holders as a free Audible download — providing in-depth content on the objects on view.

New-York Historical will present a wide variety of exhibition-related events for grown-up Harry Potter fans throughout the run of the exhibition, including trivia nights, art workshops, creative writing classes, social meet-ups, open mics, book clubs, and engaging courses that explore the Hogwarts curriculum. Programmes include an onstage conversation with illustrators Mary GrandPré and Brian Selznick, and a special evening with actor Jim Dale, known for his narration of all seven Harry Potter U.S. audio books. Family activities feature History of Magic family days with hands-on activities and crafts, a Harry Potter family book club, historical Hallowe’en celebration, and trivia for families.

Also, on display for the first time in the U.S. are Rowling’s handwritten first drafts of The Philosopher’s Stone and Deathly Hallows, her hand-drawn sketch of the Hogwarts grounds, and portraits and sketches of some of the Hogwarts’ professors and magical creatures created by British illustrator Jim Kay. John James Audubon’s water colour of Snowy Owls, a 1693 publication defending the Salem witch trials, a study of the Woolworth Building—the landmark New York location featured in the film Fantastic Beasts—and other artefacts from New-York Historical’s collection round out the original offerings.

The original exhibition was organized by British Library curators Julian Harrison, Tanya Kirk, Alexander Lock, and Joanna Norledge. In New York, the exhibition is overseen by Margi Hofer, New-York Historical’s Vice President and Museum Director, and Cristian PetruPanaite, Associate Curator of Exhibitions.