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

June 9, 2014 – July 19, 2014

“There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.”
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling

The exhibit features beautifully rendered and informative panels detailing the world of Harry Potter and its roots in Renaissance science, medicine, history, and culture.

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Although perceived as fantasy, the magic depicted in the popular Harry Potter novels and films can be traced to Renaissance traditions that played a pivotal role in the development of modern science and medicine.

Using materials from the National Library of Medicine’s “History of Medicine” collection, the exhibition explores Harry Potter’s wizarding world, its roots in Renaissance science, and the ethical questions that affect not only the wizards in J.K. Rowling’s books, but also the historical thinkers featured in the series.

Featuring fifteenth and sixteenth century works from the period’s leading thinkers, alchemists, naturalists, and occultists, the exhibition panels explore the intersection between the Harry Potter novels and Renaissance thinkers, lore, and practices.