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Traveling 'Harry Potter' exhibit coming to local libraries
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

Christopher Teimouri of North Chicago gets a closer look at the Harry Potter's World of Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine exhibit at the Vernon Area Public Library.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/24/2010 11:43 AM

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A traveling exhibit about the real-life alchemists and physicians featured in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books has come to Lake County - and you don't need a flying Ford Anglia or a ticket on the Hogwarts Express to get there.

Dubbed "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine," the free exhibit opened this week at the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire. It runs through May 2.

Created by the National Library of Medicine in Maryland, the display consists of six full-color banners that tell visitors about Renaissance-era science, medicine and theories and the men responsible for them.

Some of those historical figures were depicted in Rowling's eight-volume series, including Nicolas Flamel, the 14th century French alchemist who is in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

"We really try to highlight the history behind Harry Potter, not just their use in (the books)," said Elizabeth Bland, exhibition coordinator with the National Library of Medicine.

Information about centaurs, unicorns and other fantastical beasts that were popular during the Renaissance is included in the exhibit, as are photographs of real-life rare books featured in the series.

"I didn't just want to do an encyclopedia," Bland said. "I wanted to look at the items (Rowling) used and how she used them."

Quotes from Potter characters such as Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore and the evil Lord Voldemort adorn the banners, too.

Vernon Area is the first library in suburban Chicago scheduled to host the exhibit. Other stops are set for:

•The Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, July 11 to Aug. 21.

•The Schaumburg Township Public Library, Dec. 20 to Jan. 29, 2011.

•The Oesterle Library at North Central College in Naperville, April 10, 2011, to May 21, 2011.

•The Zion-Benton Public Library in Zion, May 6, 2012, to June 16, 2012.

Seventy stops at libraries across the nation are scheduled - far more than were originally planned. Four copies of the exhibit will rotate across the country.

"You put 'Harry Potter' on something, and people get really excited," Bland said. "There were hundreds of libraries that wanted a copy."

At Vernon Area, the exhibition is just inside the entrance of the adult services department, near the periodicals and new books. It can be easily overlooked if you don't know it's there, much like the King's Cross Station platform 93/4 that Potter and his friends use to go to school in Rowling's books.

The Vernon Area Public Library is at 300 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire.

To learn more about the traveling exhibit, visit