Harry Potter: A History of Magic opens at the New-York Historical Society

Phoenix illustration by Jim Kay © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 2016. Original design by the British Library 2017.

British Library’s blockbuster exhibition brings it magic to New York

5 October 2018 – 27 January 2019


Following the success of Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library, the exhibition is opening in the USA, where the New-York Historical Society will play host to the first ever British Library exhibition in America. The exhibition celebrates the 20th anniversary of the US publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, combining centuries-old manuscripts, rare books and other treasures from the British Library and New-York Historical Society, along with original drafts, sketches and correspondence from publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowling’s own archives.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic was the British Library’s most successful exhibition ever with over 170,000 visitors between October 2017 and February 2018. The exhibition broke new ground for the Library’s public programmes, with many visitors coming to the Library for the very first time:

  • 66% were first time visitors to the British Library
  • Highest number of school students and families, who were able to see the exhibition thanks to dedicated schools-only slots every week 
  • The books published in association with the exhibition were number 1 and number 5 bestsellers in the UK’s children’s non-fiction charts in 2017 and have been translated into many languages, including Vietnamese, Hungarian and Thai
  • Over 775,000 fans enjoyed related panel displays through the British Library’s partnership with 20 Living Knowledge Network partners in libraries around the UK and in 40 public libraries
  • Over half a million visits from 77 countries to the Google Arts and Culture experience, which features content from the exhibition

This partnership with New-York Historical Society means the exhibition will continue to inspire a wide range of new audiences around the world.

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library, said:

“We were thrilled to welcome so many visitors of all ages and backgrounds to our Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition in London – and this next phase of the exciting journey means the story isn’t over. We are delighted to be collaborating with our friends at the New-York Historical Society, and other international partners, to share this magical exhibition with people of all ages in the United States.” 

Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, said:

“‘History Matters’ has long been the motto of the New-York Historical Society, New York’s first museum and distinguished research library, founded in 1804. How true this motto rings with the launch of the British Library’s magnificent exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, in our galleries. I am grateful to the many colleagues at the British Library and New-York Historical who brought this exhibition to life on both sides of the Atlantic.” 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library was curated by Julian Harrison, Alexander Lock, Tanya Kirk and Joanna Norledge. In New York, the exhibition is overseen by Margi Hofer, New-York Historical’s vice president and museum director, and Cristian Petru Panaite, associate curator of exhibitions.

More information about Harry Potter: A History of Magic and exhibition-related programming at the New-York Historical Society can be found here: https://harrypotter.nyhistory.org/


Notes to Editors

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research, and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilization and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers, and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Every year, up to 10 million people visit the British Library website―www.bl.uk―where they can view up to four million digitized collection items and more than 40 million pages. See more at: www.bl.uk


The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at New-York Historical encourages families to explore history together through permanent installations and a wide range of family learning programs for toddlers, children, and preteens. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, newspapers, broadsides, music sheets, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings. To learn more, visit nyhistory.org.


For more information:

Alice Carter
The British Library
t: +44 (0)20 7412 7126
e: alice.carter@bl.uk

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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