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Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Ke West Florida Debuts Magical Harry Potter Exhibit

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From Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

There’s wizardry afoot at Key West’s Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, 200 Greene St., as a new exhibit titled “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine” promises to cast a spell over visitors.

Featuring highlights from the museum’s priceless collection of Renaissance-era shipwreck antiquities, the exhibit focuses on the blockbuster books by J.K. Rowling and films about young wizard Harry Potter to explore authentic Renaissance traditions of alchemy, astrology, medicinal potions and herbs, the search for immortality and more.

Museum visitors can explore a re-creation of the fictional wizards’ lair of Diagon Alley, containing apothecary shops and emporiums offering magical paraphernalia such as cauldrons, mandrake plants, healing herbs and protective poison cups.

On display are rare medical instruments, navigational tools and talismans salvaged by the late Mel Fisher’s divers from the Spanish galleons Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita, sunk off Key West in 1622. The exhibit relates each one to Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

Featured objects include Renaissance swords, surgical tools, authentic cauldrons, a mariner’s astrolabe believed to have inspired the fictional time-turner of Potter lore, and a solid gold poison cup that was salvaged from the Atocha site. The cup’s name comes from the gold wire cage inside it that holds a bezoar stone that neutralizes arsenic, a recognized Renaissance poison. In the Potter series, Harry uses a bezoar stone to save the life of a friend.

Educational banners for the new exhibit were provided by the National Library of Medicine as part of a touring exhibit on renaissance science, magic and medicine.

Visitors to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum also can discover permanent exhibits spotlighting cannons and smaller weapons, silver and gold bars and coins, emeralds and treasures from the Atocha and Santa Margarita, and artifacts from the English merchant slave ship Henrietta Marie.

“Harry Potter’s World” and the museum’s associated Renaissance programming are expected to continue through July 2013.

Exhibit information:



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