UI Sciences Library holds grand opening of Harry Potter exhibit

The University of Iowa Sciences Library now features an exhibition filled with Harry Potter memorabilia donated by local Potterheads.


Nichole Harris

A LEGO version of Hogwarts castle is on display in the Science Library as part of their Harry Potter exhibit. The Harry Potter exhibit’s grand opening was held on Monday, October 21, 2019 in the Sciences Library. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Pedro Barragan, Arts Reporter

October has put quite a few people in Iowa City in a spooky mood, but over at the University of Iowa’s Sciences Library, one event will exclude muggles.

Starting on Oct. 21 and lasting until the beginning of November, the UI’s Sciences Library will be celebrating Halloween with a Harry Potter-themed display. The exhibit will be open to students and kids of all ages.

When entering the exhibit’s universe of Harry Potter, one is immediately drawn into J.K. Rowling’s fictional world. There’s an array of objects replicated from both the film and novels.  Some items included in this exhibition were wands from some notable characters, the Goblet of Fire, a Lego set of Hogwarts, Funko Pops of Harry Potter characters, as well as all seven of Rowling’s books in great condition.

Laurie Neuerburg, the UI’s Science Library’s Reference and Outreach librarian was the key organizer for the wizard-themed event.

Related: Bringing Hogwarts to Iowa City: How Harry Potter has stayed true to UI students

“We were looking at doing a Halloween exhibit and the Natural History museum had this snowy owl, a frog, and jars of newts and bats,” Neuerburg said. “And it gave us the idea to do a Harry Potter exhibit.”

Nichole Harris
The exhibit borrowed many different objects from different colleges and Iowa City residents. The Harry Potter exhibit’s grand opening was held on Monday, October 21, 2019 in the Sciences Library. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

According to Neuerburg, J.K. Rowling’s creations fit in with the Library’s science materials. One of the items on display is a floating Snitch, the item the characters in the books chase after during the sweeping magical sport of Quidditch.

“We do have our levitating snitch, which is electromagnetic,” said Neuerburg. “So, often when you see magic in real life, there’s science behind it.”

UI Sciences Library Head Leo Clougherty said that many of the contributions for the exhibit were given by patrons. Some of the memorabilia, which included the potions, books, the lantern, and the wand was given by his son, to whom he read the first three books to when he was a child.

“The potion book is from England, there’s like only 30 of them in the world,” said Clougherty. “And the Marauder’s Map is actually the whole thing. These coins are from the bank that the goblin’s run in Diagon Alley. And the wands are a collection of replica’s from characters from Deathly Hallows.

Patrons who came for the opening day were treated to some Harry Potter themed treats and activities. These included a bowl of “ the polyjuice potion” — which was a lemon lime soda slushie in green dye  — trying on the Sorting Hat, and being treated to trivia about the valuables in the display.

Nichole Harris
Attendees of the grand opening view the display at the Harry Potter exhibit. The Harry Potter exhibit’s grand opening was held on Monday, October 21, 2019 in the Sciences Library. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Library assistant Pam Kacena said she had a hard time narrowing down a favorite item from the exhibition, but she would pick either the Lego built Hogwarts or the UI Natural History museum’s snow owl.

Showing off the various items, Kascena pointed to a corner with a scarecrow wearing a werewolf mask, sweater vest, and brown loafers, and said, “And you’ll want to take a photo with Professor Lupin.”

Kacena said that this is a must see for any Potterheads in Iowa City.

“If you love the books, we tried to represent as much about them as we can,” said Kascena. “Whether it be [Legos] or animals, all of the donations have been helpful.”



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