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Illustration of an owl from Konrad Gesner, Historiae Animalium, 1551 Illustration of an owl from Konrad Gesner, Historiae Animalium, 1551
Illustration of an apothecary lesson from Hieronymus Brunschwig, Liber de Arte Distillandi de Compositis, 1512 Illustration of an apothecary lesson
Hieronymus Brunschwig, Liber de Arte Distillandi de Compositis, 1512

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 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.

 

Credits

This exhibition is brought to you by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Curated by Elizabeth J. Bland, History of Medicine
Consulting by Mark A. Waddell, Ph. D.
Designed by Howard + Revis Design Services and the National Library of Medicine
Special thanks to Stephen Greenberg, Ph.D., Michael J. North, M.S.L.S., and E. Dever Powell, M.S.L.I.S.