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NLM Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Harry Potter Series

June 1, 2017

Special Display, Public Programs, and Lectures, June 26-30, 2017

The magic of Harry Potter comes to the National Library of Medicine!

On June 26, 1997, British author J. K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the Harry Potter series and the beginning of a global, pop cultural phenomenon. To celebrate Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary and the world-renowned historical collections of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Library will offer a series of special events, including a week-long display featuring rare books and incunables (books printed before 1501) which influenced the Harry Potter series, and the popular NLM traveling exhibition Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine, lectures, and more.

Events will be held June 26-30, 2017 at NLM, on the Bethesda campus of the National Institutes of Health.

Learn About the History Which Inspired the Story - NLM will display 15th, 16th, and 17th-century collection items, which represent the history that informed some of the characters and settings of the Harry Potter series, and formed the foundation of the traveling exhibition Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine. The special display and traveling exhibition explore the magic of Harry Potter and its roots in Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science. The display and exhibition highlight the important ethical topics Rowling’s stories examine. Visitors can navigate the display using a “Marauder’s Map” and take home coloring pages fashioned from the books and incunables on display.

Harry Potter’s World and the Renaissance books and incunables will appear in the History of Medicine Division Reading Room at NLM (bldg. 38) during the week of June 26th. The event is open to the general public, 10:00am-4:00pm each day. Reservations are strongly encouraged as only a limited number of people can be accommodated in the Reading Room. Guided tours are available upon request by email at or by phone at 301-594-1947.

Lectures: The NLM will also offer two special lectures as part of the week-long appreciation of the Harry Potter series. On June 27th at 2:00pm, the curator of Harry Potter’s World, Elizabeth Bland, presents “A Look into the Pensieve: Reflections on Harry Potter at Twenty Years.” Then, on June 29th at 2:00pm, Stephen Greenberg, PhD, Head of Rare Books & Early Manuscripts at NLM gives a talk titled “Monsters in the Stacks: How Harry Potter Came to NLM.” Both lectures take place in the Lister Hill Auditorium (bldg. 38A) and will be live-streamed globally. More information is available on the HMD Lecture Series website.   

Permanent Digital Gallery: To benefit audiences around the world, and especially those who are joining in the celebration of the Harry Potter 20th anniversary, the NLM will launch an online curated collection of the 15th, 16th, and 17th-century books that will appear in the week-long display, as well as related works. All will be digitized and accessible through the online adaptation of Harry Potter’s World.

For more information about NLM’s week-long celebration of Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary and related NLM collections, please contact or 301-594-1947.

Visitor Information

Located on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus of the NIH, the National Library of Medicine is open Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission to all onsite NLM exhibitions is free. For more information, visit: To arrange a group tour, call 301.594.1947.

History of Medicine Lecture Series

The lectures by Elizabeth Bland and Stephen Greenberg are part of NLM’s History of Medicine Lectures for 2017. The lecture series, sponsored by the NLM History of Medicine Division, promotes awareness and use of NLM and other historical collections for research, education, and public service in biomedicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. The series also supports the commitment of the NLM to recognizing and celebrating diversity.

All lectures are free and open to the public. They are also live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

Complete details are available on the website of the NLM’s History of Medicine Division.

harry potter logo

Logo: Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine

Courtesy National Library of Medicine


illustration of alchemy workshop

Illustration of an alchemy workshop in Johann Mylius, Opus Medico-Chymicum, 1618

Courtesy National Library of Medicine


The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is a leader in research in biomedical informatics and data science and the world’s largest biomedical library. NLM conducts and supports research in methods for recording, storing, retrieving, preserving, and communicating health information. NLM creates resources and tools that are used billions of times each year by millions of people to access and analyze molecular biology, biotechnology, toxicology, environmental health, and health services information. Additional information is available at

Last Reviewed: June 1, 2017