New ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibition set to light up Leeds Central Library from this Sunday: exhibition.png

30 Nov 2017

New ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibition set to light up Leeds Central Library from this Sunday

A Harry Potter themed exhibition celebrating the origins and history of magic is set to open at Leeds Central Library this Sunday.

Inspired by the British Library’s ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibit, on offer will include workshops, talks, storytelling and a number of special events perfect for all the family. Forming part of the display on specially designed panels will also be images of books, manuscripts and magical objects currently on view in the British Library’s own exhibition and images of material from author J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections.

As part of the exhibition, Leeds and Yorkshire’s own connections to magic and folklore will also be explored and feature wonderful images from the central library’s unique collections. This includes taking a closer look at Mother Shipton, who born in Yorkshire in 1488, is one of England’s most famous prophetess.

Kicking-off the festivities on Sunday (December 3) in Room 700 at Leeds Central Library from 11am-3pm is a very special ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic Experience’ event. Visitors will be able to as part of 20th anniversary celebrations marking the publication of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, delve into divination, ponder the peculiarities of potions and discover more about the creatures and traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the popular stories. Just like Diagon Alley, there will also be a range of stalls selling all types of magical wares. Don’t miss out on the chance to have your fortune told by a student of Professor Trelawney’s and visit the Herbology Room, a space filled with botanical illustrations and extraordinary plants inspired by the magical plant studies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. Or take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the historic books full of witches, fantastic beasts and the supernatural from the library’s collections.

Families will also be able to join in a Harry Potter Trail of the exhibition and face challenges along the way as they delve further into the real life myths and legends behind some of the magical elements in the popular stories.

To find out more about selected activities and events on offer as part of the exhibition which runs from December 3 2017– January 29 2018, please see the Notes to Editors section.

Full details of all events and further information on the ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’ exhibit are available on our heritage blog Secret Library Leeds – or join in the conversation at: #BLHarryPotter

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:

“A whole generation has grown up with the Harry Potter books and been fascinated and inspired by the magical world created by JK Rowling. I am very excited therefore that Leeds Central Library is hosting this new exhibition, which will delve deeper into the some of the book’s inspirations, and also showcase the origins, history and local traditions of Leeds and Yorkshire.”

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.”

Notes to editors:

Events held at Leeds Central Library as part of the Harry Potter: A History of Magic event, include:

The Herbology Room

3rd December 2017 – 2nd January 2018

Room 700, First Floor, Leeds Central Library

The Herbology Room… a space filled with botanical illustrations and extraordinary plants inspired by the magical plant studies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories in the heart of Leeds Central Library.

The Herbology Sessions: As part of their collaboration with Leeds Central Library and The British Library exhibition, The Plant Room will also be curating a collection of workshops and talks that will take place in the Herbology Room. These include; a closed terrarium workshop, bookbinding, wreath-making, charms and smudge sticks, storytelling and life drawing.

The Harry Potter Trail and Family Challenge

3rd December 2017 – 2nd January 2018

Pick up your free trail sheet and explore the magical Harry Potter exhibition as a family. There will be challenges and tasks along the way that will help you find out lots of things you might not have known about the real life myths and legends behind some of the magical elements in the Harry Potter stories. You will also discover fascinating facts about our old books and beautiful Hogwarts-like building.

SCREENING – Live from the British Library: Women, Witches and Witch Trials

5th December 2017, 6pm

Includes Private View and Curator Tour of Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition

Harry Potter Propbox Workshop

Saturday 9th December 2017, 11am, £10

Craft your own handmade props to bring the story of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to life. The perfect Christmas gift for a younger child curious about the magical world and a great opportunity to encourage reading together with the help of some magical items!

SCREENING – The British Library Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Herbology with Anna Pavord

13th December 2017, open between 12.30pm – 1.30pm

Drop in to watch this recorded broadcast from the British Library.

A Magical Storytime

14th December 2017, 11am

Children’s Library, Leeds Central Library

A free story and rhymetime for under-5’s and their grown-ups

Wand Making workshop

17th December 2017, 1pm – 3pm

Ever wondered how the wands in Ollivander’s shop are made? Join Hogwarts Professors to make your own wand and perfect your Lumos and Imperio spells. Dressing up as your favourite Harry Potter character is encouraged and will look great in our magical photobooth! This workshop will be led by Wrongsemble.

Library Lab – Wizard Game Builder

19th December 2017, 10.30am -12noon

Create your very own magical characters and bring them to life in your very own Hogwarts platform game.

Library Lab – Sorting Hats

19th December 2017, 2pm – 3.30pm

Which Hogwarts house do you belong to? Code a Microbit to create your very own Sorting Hat.

SCREENING – The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Defence Against the Dark Arts with Christopher Frayling

22nd January 2018, 6pm

The Unquiet Dead

25th January 2018, 6.30pm – 8pm

Local storyteller Matthew Bellwood brings to life a selection of macabre tales from the golden age of the ghost story.

Full details of all events and further information on the exhibition which runs until 29th January 2018 are available on our heritage blog Secret Library Leeds

Join in the conversation #BLHarryPotter

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.”


Notes to editors

Leeds Library and Information Service has 35 sites across the Leeds, based in Community Hubs, as well as a Mobile Library service and School Library Service.

The Central Library, opened in 1884, is home to a wide range of Special Collections and resources. The library has the largest public Lending Library in the city as well as specialist departments covering Art, Music, Local and Family History, Information and Research and BIPC Leeds. Central Library is open seven days a week

 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 civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

In January 2015, the British Library published its new strategy, Living Knowledge, which has at its heart the British Library’s mission to make its intellectual heritage available to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

The Living Knowledge Network is a new way of working in response to this ambition, working with the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales and 22 major city libraries across the UK. Together we will share resources, skills and ideas, promoting the enduring values of libraries in the twenty-first century and reinforcing the idea of the library as a transformative and accessible public asset.

The Living Knowledge Network is funded by Arts Council England and the British Library for a two year pilot period. It has three key priorities for its 2016-18 pilot period:

  • Knowledge Exchange-strengthening our collective capacity, capability and impact to deliver world-class library services to diverse communities

  • Joint offers to audiences – breaking down institutional boundaries to share our programmes, activities and content

  • Network power – forming a unique and powerful cohort of 22 city libraries and three national libraries for funding applications, evidence-gathering and to share programmes with a potential 13 million users

    Press Contacts

Contact Name


Contact Details

Linda Bloomfield

Harry Potter Creative Producer (Regional) – British LIbrary

0207 412 7233 / 07909 227663

Rose Gibson

Central Library Manager

0113 37 87039

Rhian Isaac

Collections Manager

0113 37 87054

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team