Harry Potter’s magical beasts live in new London exhibit

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The occamy, a vibrant teal feathered serpent. The demiguise, a shaggy gray monkey lookalike with owlish eyes. And the niffler, a long-snouted mole impersonator.

These magical beasts live famously in Harry Potter’s wizarding world, but they can still teach us a thing or two about our own incredible creatures — especially the threatened and endangered ones.

London’s Natural History Museum is delivering the very real message of wildlife conservation in a new exhibit that head curator Lorraine Cornish describes as the institution’s best and most ambitious.

“It’s a bit unusual for us,” Cornish told The Post. “It’s really a creative and interesting way of messaging that people and the planet can thrive together.”

The show’s Dec. 9 opening has been a long time coming — two years of planning and a seven-month delay after the coronavirus pushed back a May opening.

Now, though, “Fantastic Beasts: The Wonders of Nature” — a nod to the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” textbook by Newt Scamander from J.K. Rowling’s world of Potter — is ready except for final touches.

Visitors will be pulled through time — from hundreds of years ago to modern times.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature," the Natural History Museum’s hotly anticipated exhibition, will open in London in December.
Trustees of the Natural History Museum

Ancient drawings of dragons, unicorns and mermaids show how the human imagination has always morphed bits and pieces of real creatures into make-believe ones. Dinosaurs might be the underpinning for dragons, for example, or manatees for mermaids.

“These creatures grew out of stories passed down about strange or frightening encounters with real animals,” Cornish said.

Magizoologist Scamander, who is both wizard and magical-creature researcher, and the museum’s scientists travel to faraway places seeking out the rarest of creatures, imagined and real.

Then, they point out parallels. The demiguise can vanish, the cuttlefish camouflages itself from enemies. The occamy can shrink enough to hide in a teapot, pufferfish can inflate themselves several times over.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature," the Natural History Museum’s hotly anticipated exhibition, will open in London in December.
Trustees of the Natural History Museum

And the storybook beings even play a role in helping visitors understand the importance of protecting all creatures in the natural world.

Just like how Scamander tries to save the last pair of graphorns in “Fantastic Beasts” — the rhino-looking creature has two golden horns that repel spells — researchers are working to save New Zealand’s flightless Kakapo. And they’re succeeding.

“The story of the Kakapo bird is inspiring, filled with hope,” Cornish told The Post.

Roughly 100 of the museum’s 80 million specimens will be mingled with props from the “Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” films, distributed by Warner Bros. The movie company and the BBC are the museum’s partners for the exhibit.

"Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature," the Natural History Museum’s hotly anticipated exhibition, will open in London in December.
Trustees of the Natural History Museum

The show wraps up in the summer, then starts a five-year international tour. Cornish wouldn’t comment on whether New York City will be a stop, but she smiled — and then on to talk about the exhibit’s goal.

“We want to change the way we treat the world.”

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