Mansfield Library Exhibit Examines Renaissance Science in Harry Potter Books

July 31, 2014

MISSOULA – The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana will host “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine” July 28-Sept. 13. The free exhibition, located on the main floor of the library, will be open to the public.

This exhibition, which was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, uses materials from the National Library of Medicine to explore Harry Potter’s world and its roots in Renaissance magic, science and medicine.

In conjunction with the exhibition, UM chemistry Professor Garon Smith will deliver a free lecture titled “Historical Potions that Paid Off” from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, in the Mansfield Library East Faculty Office Area. Smith, also known as G. Wiz, recently was voted “Best UM Professor” in the Missoula Independent’s Best of Missoula poll.

In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals, and perfects his magical abilities. Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology and natural philosophy.

Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, Rowling’s seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice and the responsibility that comes with power.

For more information on the traveling exhibition, visit


Contact: Julie Biando Edwards, associate professor, UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, 406-243-4505,