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New Exhibition Opens: "Medicine and Magic in Harry Potter"

Calling All Muggles!


NLM History of Medicine Division Launches a New Exhibition: "Medicine and Magic in Harry Potter"

Free Screening of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Friday, September 7th

A decade ago, British writer J. K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first in a series of seven books about a boy wizard who is the only known survivor of a "Killing Curse." A year later the book was released in the United States with the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Ms. Rowling's books were soon breaking publishing records and "the boy who lived" became entrenched in the popular imagination.

But, there is more to the Harry Potter series than a child hero or a fantasy adventure--many characters, plants, and creatures are based in history, medicine, and magical lore. Ms Rowling has drawn on important works of alchemy and herbology in shaping her stories. In a special temporary exhibition, the History of Medicine Division showcases seven of the beautiful, centuries-old treasures in its collection that are mentioned in Harry Potter.

When: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, through November 30, 2007

Where: Inside the History of Medicine Division Reading Room, first floor, National Library of Medicine, Building 38, National Institutes of Health campus, Bethesda, Maryland

Web site: Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter at //

More Information: For directions, parking and security information, campus maps, etc., go to // or call 301.496.5405.

To celebrate the exhibition, NLM is pleased to offer a free screening of the first movie in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Friday, September 7th, in the Lister Hill Auditorium, NIH Building 38A. There will be light refreshments in the Lister Hill lobby at 5:30 PM, and the program will begin at 6:00 PM. All are welcome and parking is free. Please see "More Information," above, for directions, maps and other information. Tours of the exhibition will also be provided at 5:30 PM.

Image of Mandrake

Harry and his classmates learn about mandrakes in Herbology, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Mandrake is the common name for the plant genus Mandragora. All parts of the mandrake are poisonous, though its roots have historically been used in magic rituals. Mandrake roots appear to have arms and legs and resemble the human body. In fact, in many botanical texts, such as the one here, the mandrake root is drawn in the form of a human. Legend also states that when a mandrake root is pulled from the ground, it lets out a scream that is fatal to any listener.

The National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library, is part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.