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‘Fantastic Beasts’: London Museum to unlock doors to a magical realm

Wed 09 Dec 2020    
| 3 min read

Potterheads are sure to track a trail to this exhibit quicker than a Niffler as London’s Natural History Museum puts up a “Fantastic Beasts” spectacle, chock full of mythical legends and folklore.

The Museum has scoured its vast collection for a display celebrating strange beasts in all their forms, including those imagined by J.K Rowling, famed author of the Harry Potter series.

“Fantastic Beasts. The Wonder of Nature” is a collaboration between the museum, the BBC and Warner Bros, and comes as the venue reopens after months of pandemic-enforced lockdowns.

The show promises to plunge visitors straight into a world well known to fans, where they learn about the fictional “magizoologist” Newt Scamander, leading authority on fantastic beasts.

The 2001 book was turned into a hit fantasy film franchise starring Eddie Redmayne, whose costume also features in the exhibition, which runs from this month to August next year.

The head of conservation at the Natural History Museum, Lorraine Cornish, said curators looked at the characteristics of Rowling’s inventions and compared them with their own collection.

Then from a long-list, they honed the exhibits down to more than 100 specimens that appear in the show.

The first part of the exhibition looks at the animals included in the books such as the niffler, which resembles a platypus and whose penchant for shiny things makes it a good treasure hunter.

A Niffler from the 2016 fantasy film ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’

An occamy is described as a plumed, two-legged winged creature with a serpentine body, while a demiguise is a peaceful;; herbivore that can make itself invisible and predict the future.

Also featured are dragons, unicorns and mermaids, the stuff of historic myths and legends, deeply ingrained within the public conscious.

They are exhibited alongside the unicorn hair-infused wands of one of Harry Potter’s closest friends Ron Weasley, and his arch-enemy Draco Malfoy.

Curator Louis Buckley said visitors will also be able to explore “the extraordinary abilities, behaviours and properties of real animals”, and draw comparison to their magical counterparts.

A demiguise’s impressive ability to disappear has been likened to that of butterflies who can disguise themselves as leaves for protection.

An occamy’s capacity to grow or shrink into available spaces is compared to that of Galapagos marine iguanas or pufferfish, which can expand and contract their bodies at will.

“The real world is in many ways weirder, stranger and more fantastical than anything in our imagination can cover,” said Buckley.

“I think there are lots of examples of that within the show. To actually see that… and understand a bit more how amazingly adaptable animals are is truly breathtaking.”

A total of 12 fantastic beasts from the world of wizardry are analysed, which the museum hopes will help transform its dusty image and pique the curiosity of newer, younger audiences.

The venue has indicated the exhibition will eventually go on tour to a number of countries.

[Sourced from Agencies]