Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Very Potter Day - Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library and the House of MinaLima! 3/11/17

At The British Library, from 20th October 2017 to 28th February 2018, there is an exhibition going on about Harry Potter and the History of Magic. It's main focus is how myths and legends from our world influenced Harry Potter. So, I didn't expect to be able to go. But long story short, an advert for it appeared in Dad's paper, and I talked him into it like the mature 25-year-old that I am. Although it didn't take much talking. I'm not dragging him along, here. He hides it well, but he's almost as into Harry Potter as I am!

Under a cut due to a large amount of pictures! I didn't get many from the exhibition itself, for reasons I explain below, but I did get some nice ones from the House of MinaLima!
It was an early start for Dad and I to catch a 9:30 train into London. It's a fair distance to London from where I live, but close enough for a day trip.
Outfit of the day!
Top: Primark
Headband: The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4
Scarf: Knitted by Mum <3
Wristband: Harry Potter licenced merchandise
Necklaces (Time Turner and Deathly Hallows Symbol): Off-brand
Jeans: ... they're just jeans.

This was the design on my nails.
I consider my nails an important part of my outfits!
I like to do nail art myself, so when I look at them
I feel happy I did that.
I feel I must explain my colour scheme in my clothes here. Like most, I grew up liking Gryffindor because it was the house the heroes were in. Every test I took, even silly things like "your house based on your food preferences" put me here. As I got older, I started identifying with Gryffindor as the house with the traits I most valued - admiring bravery even if I wasn't always brave myself. And the Pottermore test put me here, both times, and you can't get any more official than that!

A quick selfie before we left for the day!
It's a long-ish journey, so I bought a book with me to read to
pass the time. And what else could I honestly read? I'm using this to
kick-start a reread of the series, which I haven't done for a few years.
Dad say hi!
Our train pulls in via Waterloo, which means we get a nice shot of the London Eye as the train pulls into the station.

I like coming in this way because I get some nice shots of
London on my way in!
From the train, we took the Northern line on the Underground to Leicester Square, then changed to the Piccadilly line to London King's Cross.
This is the main National Rail station for Waterloo
A surprisingly quiet tube platform. Trust me, not every tube we took was like this.
This gives you some idea of what it's like to find your way around London
The Harry Potter things you want to see are coming up soon, I promise. I just wanted to put people into my shoes a little when it comes to getting around London.
This is the newer-built side of Kings Cross
I have never seen this queue anything less than full, ever.
Since we got to London King's Cross a little early, I suggested we looked at the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4. This never used to be such a big tourist spot as it is now. It used to just be a trolley stuck in the wall, and I kept forgetting to bring my camera on London trips to take a picture of me with it. But before I had a chance to, they turned it into this. Well, the shop is pretty cool. It has lots of merchandise, including a wide range of items for every house. The one thing I wanted to find were a pair of Harry Potter earrings, since those were something I realised I didn't have when planning for today, and I found the exact pair I wanted, with Gryffindor house crests.
Just a small selection of the merchandise they have on offer.
We were still a little early when we turned up at the museum, so we had a quick look around the museum shop, where I met a fellow Gryffindor! I also bought a bookmark, because I collect bookmarks from places I go to. I thought this was a good idea because they're always useful, but I now have more than I'd ever use.
Outside of King's Cross, I saw this building that had been nicely painted.
That's my biggest bit of advice for travel in London:
Always keep your eyes open, you never know what you might see.
Of course, outside the exhibition were these two dreaded words: No Photography. Which does annoy me, because I think one of the best things about today's society is being able to share something like this with people all over the world at the touch of a button. People who would never get the chance to experience this themselves can still learn about the culture and history on display. If there is a concern over some of the objects deteriorating, either say no flash photography or no photography around the particular item.
These were just outside the exhibition, so this was okay

These shelves held items vaguely sorted into Hogwarts House colours.
The rooms were divided up into subjects, so I'll keep them ordered in the same way we walked around, to organise my thoughts. The first room had books hanging from the ceiling, and copies of Rowling's original synopsis and work. It had the first "review" written by one of the daughters (eight at the time) of one of the publishers at Bloomsbury before they decided to publish the book.

"The excitement in this book made me feel warm inside. I thnk it is possibly one of the best books an 8/9 year old could read"

They also had various framed pictures of the illustrations by Jim Kay for the illustrated editions. The first room had one of Dumbledore and McGonagall.

Potions: Another Jim Kay drawing, a picture of Snape, was on one wall. Another had interactive cauldrons so you could mix potions yourself. There were cauldron lights on the ceiling - every room had something interesting happening on the ceiling. Also, an "actual" bezoar. Around one side, there were historical books discussing potions and the other had a draft of potions-relevant parts of Half-Blood Prince. This was interesting as most of the time if you see that sort of thing, it's Philosopher's Stone.

Alchemy: A huge scroll called The Ripley Scroll explaining how to make the philosopher's stone stood in the centre. Yes, that is philosopher's stone as in the actual mythical object which is absolutely not called a sorcerer's stone. The ceiling had glass bottles with coloured liquid inside hanging down. One of the more interesting things about the books I've always thought is that Nicolas Flamel was a real person!

Herbology: A section of mandrakes in history literally took up one whole wall. One of the mandrake drawings was certainly interesting! There were also more historical text discussing plants. A lot of plants mentioned in the books are known to Muggles, too - I guess it's harder to obliviate everyone who's ever seen what appears to be a nondescript weed growing in the road.

Charms: There was a wall showing Jim Kay's concept art on Diagon Alley. On the ceiling there were broomsticks. In one case, there was an invisibility cloak. Dad told me to take the picture of it, so blame him. Because I think I'll get asked, no, I don't think there was anything there.
"This invisibility cloak is visible as a slight shimmer out of the corner of your eye.
It has been handed down generation to generation, the only sure way to keep
track of such items. Invisibility cloaks have long been treasured as magical objects,
and in Japan the equivalent is known as kakuremino, meaning raincoat of invisibility."
Astronomy: This one had to coolest ceiling of the lot. It had stars flickering on and off. The centre contained a stargazing globe. One wall had an astrolabe an an orrery (which is the name for a mechanical model of the solar system). It also discussed the number of Harry Potter characters who are named after constellations.

Divination: A picture of Professor Trelawney, again by Jim Kay. There were teacups suspended on the ceiling. There were books about how to read Tea-leaves. One of the items here, a Chinese fortune-telling bone, was over 3000 years old. Muggles have been caught by the idea of telling the future almost since the dawn of time, and over almost every culture in the world. Crystal-gazing, tea-leaf reading and palmistry all have their roots in Muggle myths. I like how in the books, Trelawney and a select few think highly of her subject, but everyone else considers it a bit of a joke.

Defence Against The Dark Arts: One corner were dedicated to the Kappa. There was a model Sphinx in the centre. In one corner, a very early draft of Philosopher's Stone sat that was almost unrecognisable from the final draft apart from a few names. Fudge was a muggle minister, who was visited by Hagrid, and Dursley showed up. DADA is so tied up with everything that Harry goes through that you can see where the myths influenced Harry's story.

Care of Magical Creatures: This was one of the larger rooms. On one wall, magical creatures were silhouetted against a window and walked by every so often. There were things here on Hagrid's concept art and Newt Scamander, and the history of unicorns in myths. Magical creatures influences both their characters so much that they had to be here. One of Jim Kay's drawings of dragon egg's was on the wall. It also talked about Phoenixes and similar myths. There was a "mermaid" corpse (actually the head of a monkey and the tail of a fish).

Can I just say that historically, being accused of a witch was used as a way to keep women in line, that any man could accuse a woman of being a witch if she did something he disliked. I like how the term has been reclaimed and used as a force for good, to inspire the minds of children and adults all over the world.

One of the things that is important to keep in mind is that magic is not solely a Western idea. Almost every culture has some kind of concept of the supernatural, and this exhibition does a great job of showing some of them. There were legends represented from Arabia, Ethiopia, China, Thailand and Japan, among others.

The last section had some interesting tipbits from Rowling herself. The symbol of Hufflepuff house was originally going to be a bear. Her original plan of OatP had a section where she discussed how Cho and Ginny related to the plot. It also had a shelf showing various different editions of the books.

A representation of all the different languages that Harry Potter has been translated into.
Quotes were on the wall all around the exhibition.
Outside, there were a few other things going on (and a chance to take a few pictures). Dad bought the book Harry Potter: A History of Magic. We originally weren't planning to get the book, but it's so well-done he decided to get it. And there was a wall where people had written up their thoughts on the exhibition, and I had to share Dad's. He's actually used some lines here from a poem we wrote together years ago.
In case you can't read his writing:
Harry goes to Hogwarts
A really special school, he's
Really rather trendy
Really rather cool
You'll always hear him chanting
Practising his art
Oblivious to danger
Tactical and smart
To help his friends in trouble
Excising every rotter
Ready steady shout it:
Hear Comes Harry Potter!
Even if you're not all that into Harry Potter (maybe you're being dragged along by a more enthusiastic party) the history is still interesting by itself. I'd recommend this for all ages: young children, younger fans, older fans and non-fans alike. There's something here for everyone.

We decided to go to Maxwell's Bar and Grill in Covent Garden for lunch. I suggested this place, as I've been here a few times. I knew they were reasonable, and did food we'd both like. Well, we aren't picky, both of us can generally eat anywhere and find something on the menu we'd like. I had the buffalo and bird burger and a salted caramel thickshake and Dad had a hotdog and a vanilla thickshake.
Maxwell's from outside! They've become famous for doing a lot of
viral food lately, including a unicorn freakshake last month.
The looks Dad gives me when I take pictures of my food, haha.
Basically how it sounds. Salted caramel and what Dad called "liquid ice cream."

Three chicken wings on top, a beef patty with hot sauce and blue cheese dressing.
After that, it was time to make it to the next big place I wanted to check out. House of MinaLima!
MinaLima is a graphic design company that did much of the work on Harry Potter, and Fantastic Beasts. The company is run by the duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (whose names sound to me like characters that have walked off the pages of the Harry Potter books) and they've opened an old house/shop front in Covent Garden to display their work. Also, they allow photography. MinaLima understands.
Their shop front!
A close up on their shop window.
I like how my advice to people going to London is "don't act like a tourist, don't keep checking an underground map..." I printed off train times, an underground map, and walking directions from nearby underground stations to the places we wanted to go, and I kept taking pictures. I do tend not to make it obvious I'm checking this sort of thing out on the street, however. We wound up getting a little lost here and Dad brought out the map I'd printed off, since my phone map just refused to co-operate. Still, this did give us a chance to have a little walk-through London's Chinatown.

It's very small, so you probably won't find you spend more than an hour here. Essentially, it's a gallery. But it's right around the corner from The Cursed Child play, so if you're early for that and want to do something in the meantime, it's perfect. Best of all, it's free. If you're going to the exhibition and want something else to do to top off your visit, I really can't recommend anything better value. Sure, there's the Leavesden Studio Tour (also highly recommended) and the Cursed Child play (haven't seen it yet) but this has the advantage of being both in Central London and free.
Various Daily Prophet pages.
New York Papers from Fantastic Beasts

One thing I can never believe is the sheer amount of detail that went into what you see in the movies. Things you see on screen briefly, never close up enough to read, or not on screen at all were created in minute detail.
This window was on one flight of stairs. I love stained glass.
I had to get a picture of this case, with the Marauders Map!
Umbridge's decrees. I think 85 is very interesting, in a wow that's what an actual dictator would do way.
Also, that would include Muggle literature, too.
Black family tapestry. I had to make this picture fairly large so you got a good look at it.
Recognise this at all? It was in Harry's bedroom in Godric's Hollow!
A fireplace with the infamous letters spilling out
Next up was a Fantastic Beasts section. I love the Twenties styling on anything relating to this film.
One of the movie posters
The Seal of MACUSA
Downstairs, they had their shop. We had a brief look, but didn't buy anything. One of the coolest things they do are these editions of classic children's books and fairy tales. They're illustrated with interactive elements, and have these beautiful covers.
Absolutely on my Christmas list now!
After that, we did head for home. It had been a long day, and it was a little ways to get home from London for us. Shout out to the British Transport employees we asked for help, who turned out to be from the very train we needed.
Purchases of the day! The free hand-out leaflet, bookmark, Gryffindor earrings and Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

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