The U.S. companion to a 20th-anniversary commemorative exhibit originally mounted at the British Library.
Fulfilling the promise of the earlier teaser, Harry Potter: A Journey Through the History of Magic (2017), this more-expansive gathering includes images of more than 200 magical and medicinal artifacts, old prints and manuscripts, draft pages from J.K. Rowling’s archives, and modern illustrations in the show. These last include several items, such as Audubon’s portrait of snowy owls, that were added to the American version—kitted out with curatorial comments and pull quotes from the novels. Grouped into topical chapters such as “Potions and Alchemy,” the big, bright, sharply reproduced pictures range from close-up photos of 3,500-year-old Chinese oracle bones and a fourth-century C.E. papyrus charm to an actual mandrake root and original Harry Potter cover art by Mary GrandPré and Brian Selznick. Of perhaps particular interest to avid HP fans, there are also manuscript pages of edited and unused scenes from the original series and bits from spinoffs such as Tales of Beedle the Bard and later film and stage productions. Along with paying exhaustive tribute to the canonical Potterverse, the exhibition explores the magical milieu that served as at least its initial foundation even as it expands the originally Eurocentric scope of that milieu with nods to China, Japan, Thailand, and Ethiopia.
A magical mystery tour chock full of wonders ancient and modern. (Nonfiction. 10-adult)