Return to Harry Potter’s world at the library’s book launch party, new exhibit

LFPL's Diagon Alley | Photo by Melissa Chipman

LFPL’s Diagon Alley | Photo by Melissa Chipman

A hallway at the Main Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library has been transformed — as if by magic — into the world of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley to celebrate the LFPL Summer Reading program called “Reading is Magical.”

The display was already in the works when it was announced that J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” would be released this summer. Serendipity! So the library is throwing a giant book release party on the night of July 30. Sales of the book will begin after midnight, but the library is putting together a ton of activities and entertainment throughout the evening.

According to Paul Burns, communications director for LFPL, the library ordered 40 copies of the book and all of them are reserved. You can hop on the waitlist — but who are we kidding? If you care enough about the Potterverse to attend the event, you’re not leaving without a copy. Carmichael’s is selling the books there.

But wait, there’s so much more. The library has partnered with other local organization to host activities. The Louisville Zoo is bringing animals that seem spooky or magical (I’d bet there will be at least one owl). The Kentucky Science Center will be making potions with the patrons. The Frazier Museum will do and teach magic tricks. Expect clouds and floating candles in the Bernheim Gallery. The staff will be in costume (look for Burns as Sirius Black).

When the “Deathly Hollows” book was released, the library hosted a party that welcomed around 1,500 people; expect a similar turnout this time. And once again, there will be entertainment for all ages.

Keep abreast of the event via the library’s Facebook page.

But if you cannot make the party, the exhibit in the hallway itself is an absolute gem. Diagon Alley will be up until Aug. 14.

The library’s design team worked “on their own time and late” into the evenings to construct Diagon Alley, Burns said. Librarians and staff helped paint, and many of the props in the store windows came from library staff’s private collections — wands, broomsticks and such. It’s so realistic that Burns said he’s walked down the hall and heard small children ask their parents if they can “go in the stores.”

A lot of institutions have had a hand in creating the magical exhibit.

The Actors Theatre prop shop helped out with bird cages and other props. Dr. Ted Steinbock, a local book collector, loaned some gorgeous books on Renaissance sciences like alchemy, herbology and natural philosophy. Architectural Salvage loaned the library the windows and doors.  the The Quidditch beaters’ bat is a modified donation from Louisville Slugger. The Frazier also assisted.

The educational part — on how Renaissance science relates to Harry Potter — is a traveling exhibit by the National Library of Medicine.

Click on one of the images below to check out IL’s photo gallery of the exhibit.