You Can Tour The 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' Exhibit Online For Free

by Madison Vanderberg
Originally Published: 
Artefacts and memorabilia are displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhib...
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Take a virtual tour of Harry Potter: A History Of Magic with the Google Arts & Culture platform

There are a few ways to experience Harry Potter IRL. Go to one of the Universal Studios theme parks in California or Florida or get all the way to London to experience the Warner Bros. studio tour or the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London. Or… you can get your Potter on…virtually. The Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition has been available to tour online via the Google Arts & Culture platform, but with everyone stuck at home on lockdown, there’s been a renewed interest in the online application.

Much like the recently launched Harry Potter at Home online hub which is filled with themed quizzes, puzzles, word searches, and Potter-themed videos, Potterheads will also go nuts for this comprehensive virtual tour of the British library collection.

The biggest draw at the exhibition are all the illustrations by Jim Kay, who did all the imagery for the book jackets. Most of our collective Harry Potter images are completely informed by the films, but to see what Kay thought Snape or Dumbledore aught to look like is fascinating. It’s interesting to view Hogwarts as it was meant to be seen.

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Other Harry Potter artifacts on display include J.K. Rowling’s handwritten notes and other magical props from the Wizarding World and beyond. The online platform also allows you to virtually “move” through each exhibition room in the collection like the Care of Magical Creatures room or the Defense Against the Dark Arts section.

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The exhibit explores the link between the witchcraft and wizardry of the Potterverse with the very real practice of magic around the world. For example, the exhibit showcases the actual 16th-century Ripley Scroll that explains how to create a Philosopher’s Stone, aka, sorry to break it to you but J.K. Rowling didn’t invent Philosopher’s Stones. “What we’ve tried to do is put the historical examples of her ideas, side by side with how they feature in the books,” lead curator Julian Harrison says in a statement.

Unlike the Studio Tour in London or the various theme parks which are very much for entertainment only, this exhibit is insightful, educational, and a fascinating look at the history that informed the beloved book series — meaning, you might be able to pass this off as home learning with your kids.

You can check out the entire exhibit online here.

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