Manchester City Council

Central Library to host display inspired by the British Library’s new exhibition - Harry Potter: A History of Magic

Central Library is offering visitors the chance to learn about the history of magic - with the help of Harry Potter.

Today, displays will launch simultaneously at Central Library and 19 other public libraries across the UK, in tandem with the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London.  

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

The 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. 

Central Library is also set to host a series of magic and Halloween-themed events, including a live beamback from the British Library, a chance to handle some of the city rarest and oldest books and a special Sunday opening. 

A free Creepy Crypt Family event will be held on - when else - Halloween, along with a talk beamed back live from the British Library about Brooms, Wands and Cauldrons: The Instruments of Magic (both events Tuesday 31 October, free, 4 - 6pm.  See www.librarylive.co.uk for full details).

The special handling sessions will give visitors the chance to see unique items from Manchester's archives and special collections - including copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle; Elizabeth Blackwell's "A Curious Herbal" from the 18th century; a book about the 16th century alchemist John Dee and various items from the Witchcraft collection.  

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member For Schools, Culture and Leisure, said: "This Halloween, with the help of the British Library, we're celebrating the magical stories behind the Harry Potter books and showing library visitors some of the oldest and most curious items from Manchester's amazing archives.  

"Through engaging visitors with displays and events such as this, we are aiming to bring Central Library’s unique and extensive special collections to more people than ever before, right across the city."

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “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.

"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.”

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