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A Side Trip To Libraryland, By Way of Harry Potter and Political Television

August 18, 2010

Harry Potter's World letterhead with owl

Last night, the Rachel Maddow Show included one of its “Just Enough” pop culture segments, this time featuring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, as well as the exhibit, Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine.

What wasn’t readily apparent from the Maddow segment is that the featured exhibit is a traveling exhibit of the National Library of Medicine, copies of which may be coming to a library near you. From the exhibit site:

Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books 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 seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power. This exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world and its roots in Renaissance magic, science, and medicine.

Exhibit locations and dates are available here (most dates) and here (a few dates associated with the American Library Association).

View the Maddow segment (with transcript) here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 1:17 am

    That’s too weird–I’m teaching the first Harry Potter novel, and using that exhibit’s web site, TOMORROW. (Just finished my lesson plan.) I saw the curator give a talk at the Pop Culture Association conference this year and have been looking forward to showing this stuff to my summer students ever since …

  2. Elizabeth Bland permalink
    August 25, 2010 3:24 pm


    Thanks for posting this! Hopefully people who watched Rachel Maddow will be able to find information on the exhibit and this definitely helps 🙂

    Elizabeth Bland
    National Library of Medicine

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