Harry Potter exhibit comes to DSU

New traveling exhibition tells the story of the magical world of Harry Potter and its connections to Renaissance traditions and the history of science.

"Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine," a traveling exhibition opening at Dakota State University's Karl E. Mundt Library on Wednesday, January 19 uses materials from the National Library of Medicine to explore Harry Potter's magical world and its roots in Renaissance traditions.

In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals and perfects his magical abilities. Although a fictional story, the "Harry Potter" series is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy. Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the "Harry Potter" books examine important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice and the responsibility that comes with power.

Exhibit panels feature the works of 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, such as naturalist Konrad Gesner, alchemist Nicolas Flamel and occultist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, and explore their understandings of natural philosophy, medicine, and magic. The panels also highlight illustrations from Renaissance texts of some of the fantastic creatures and plants featured in "Harry Potter," including basilisks, dragons, merpeople and mandrakes, and use them to explore the intersection between the novels and Renaissance thinkers, lore and practices.

"We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition," said Ethelle Bean, director of the Mundt Library. "The study of Renaissance magic, science, and medicine adds a fascinating dimension to "Harry Potter" for both children and adults. For example, alchemist Nicolas Flamel is fictionally featured in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Flamel was a real 15th-century scholar whose experiments with metals influenced the development of modern chemistry. Our library is thrilled to explore exhibition themes, including the development of Western science, through a series of fun, informative and innovative programs."

The National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland organized the exhibition. The exhibition tour is coordinated by the American Library Association Public Programs Office, Chicago. For more information about the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health visit www.nlm.nih.gov.

The library is sponsoring free programs and other events for the public in connection with the exhibition. During the opening reception on January 19th, live animals from the Harry Potter series will be on hand, offering an opportunity to meet and learn about these creatures. This program will run from 7-8 pm at the Mundt Library. Contact 605-256-5203 or mary.francis@dsu.edu for more information. "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine" will be on display at the library until February 18th.



Last Updated: 1/12/12