Harry Potter-inspired exhibition set for Central Library

Visitors to Edinburgh’s Central Library can explore the History of Magic from Saturday, 21 October. 

A special display, which will launch simultaneously in 20 public libraries across the UK, will run in tandem with the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London.

The series of displays will include specially designed panels inspired by Harry Potter: A History of Magic, showing images of rare books, manuscripts and magical objects featured in the British Library’s exhibition, as well as images of material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections. 

Edinburgh’s local connections to magic and folklore will be showcased too, and will include ancient books from the Royal Observatory, magical herbs from the Royal Botanic Gardens and other amazing artefacts from the Central Library’s Collections.

A series of events celebrating the exhibition will also take place across the city over the coming months, ranging from a visit by Hedwig and Pigwidgeon look-alikes from the Scottish Owl Centre, Magic School tutorials and magic stage make-up lessons in different libraries, as well as special events at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

Councillor Ian Perry, Education, Children and Families Convener, said: “This fantastic display is set to capture the minds of Harry Potter fans young and old, so we’re extremely pleased to be working with the British Library to bring its magic to the capital, which has such a strong connection to the stories.

“As an ancient city, Edinburgh itself is steeped in folklore, so it is particularly fitting to bring the book’s enchantment to our own historic Central Library. What’s more, we’ll be running a range of exciting events across the city in celebration of the exhibition, which I would thoroughly recommend.” 

The displays have been developed by the British Library in collaboration with public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network, an innovative partnership between the British Library and 22 major public libraries across the UK, and the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, combining centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. Based on the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this exhibition will showcase material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections, going on display for the very first time.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said of the project: “We are delighted to be working with 20 different public libraries across the UK to share our exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. The Living Knowledge Network is all about sharing resources, skills and ideas to make our intellectual heritage available to everyone and here we’ve championed what lies at the heart of the Harry Potter stories that resonates deeply with people across the country to achieve this. The roll-out truly encapsulates the convening power of bringing local and national treasures together through the partners.”

“We are delighted to be working with 20 different public libraries across the UK to share our exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. Using stunning mobile panels inspired by the exhibition, these Living Knowledge Network partners will draw on their own collections and regional connections to magical traditions and folklore to make displays, and I look forward to seeing the results.

"Sharing our exhibition in this way is the best possible demonstration of our aims for the Living Knowledge Network, which brings together libraries from across the UK to inspire audiences, share knowledge and to celebrate the transformative and enduring power of libraries.”

Exhibition and event details

Harry Potter: A history of Magic Exhibition; Central Library, Mezzanine Floor; Saturday 21st Oct - Wednesday 28th February

Cool Creatures live animal handling; Leith Library, Oxgangs Library, South Queensferry Library and South Office Neighbourhood and Library; various times and dates

Scottish Owl Centre owl visits; Granton Library, Moredun Library, Currie Library, Portobello Library and Central Children’s Library; various times and dates

Magic School with Headmaster Gary James; Piershill Library, Morningside Library, Drumbrae Library, Ratho Library and Central Children’s Library; various times and dates

The Magic of Stage Make up; Kirkliston Library, Gilmerton Library and Wester Hailes Library; various times and dates

The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Herbology With Anna Pavord; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; Sunday 12th November; 2pm – 3.15pm

Meet Matthew Fitt - translator of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane; Edinburgh Central Library; Thursday 30th November; 2.30pm – 3.30pm

The Magical Castle; Lauriston Castle; Saturday 10th February, 10am – 1pm

Fantastic Creatures Workshop; Writers' Museum; Saturday 24th February, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm 

Full details available online or by calling your local library.

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