Harry Potter & The Getty Center

We had a busy few days this past weekend here at the Getty! I helped out with a cosmos-themed Ever Present event, part of our series featuring performance art, on Saturday, and this past Sunday, we hosted a talk on Harry Potter and the medieval bestiary. Public Programs put on both of these events as tie-ins to ongoing exhibitions: Ever Present with “The Wondrous Cosmos in Medieval Manuscripts,” and Harry Potter with “Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World,” our current Special Exhibition.

One of the performers at Ever Present.

One of the performers at Ever Present

The lecture was called “Intro to the Care of Magical Creatures: The Bestiary and Harry Potter,” and it united one of our manuscripts curators, Larisa Grollemond, with one from the British Library, Julian Harrison. They hosted a game-show style lecture where they taught the crowd about the real medieval origins of many of our favourite magical creatures, like unicorns and mermaids.

Gryffindor House slide from the lecture

For this event, we wanted to make it look more laid-back and fun than a normal lecture (not that our normal lectures aren’t fun!), so my boss, Danielle, told me to come up with a few decoration ideas for the check-in table. Being a Potterhead myself (shout out to my WizMug days), I took this free reign and ran with it. As everyone knows, Pinterest is an absolute treasure-trove of decor ideas, and I soon had a list at the ready. Armed with my newly downloaded Harry Potter fonts and printable potions labels, I set about transforming the auditorium lobby into a magical space.

Potion labels!!

Potion labels!!

First up, I made our normal signs for check-in and whatnot slightly more on-theme with my new fonts.

check in

Secondly, I got started on wands. Everybody knows that’s a requirement for first-years at Hogwarts, so I had to include them. I used chopsticks from our cafe, and paint and a hot glue gun my coworker, Tony, graciously brought in. I sat at my desk, painting chopsticks and dripping hot glue on them, while everyone else typed and printed and conducted business as usual. I got more than a few confused looks and “what are you doing?” questions, but everyone understood once they saw the finished products.



Next, I made a few button designs. Our Education and Public Programs department has a button maker, which they let us use. Daniela, from Public Programs, is a button-making star, and she whipped out a whole batch the morning of the lecture.




Most exciting (and smelly) for me was creating the potions. I used glass bottles left over from a winter event, and filled them with assorted items from around the Getty. Essence of Dittany was greens from the hill mixed with green soap, while Amortentia was Crystal Light, mayo, and water (that did not smell like true love!). My Pepper-Up Potion would perk anyone up, seeing as it was made from hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Once I had assembled all my odd ingredients, and taped off bottle openings, we began to arrange everything on the table.


Alongside the wands, buttons, and potions, we used plants from our desks, a feathered hat from a coworker, a snake from Daniela’s office, and, to top it off, the Hogwarts and four house crests for a truly magical evening.

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  1. Lois Ingles says:

    What a fun assignment !!