Muggles, Rejoice! Harry Potter Casts a Spell at the de Young Museum
(Courtesy of Museum Hack)

Muggles, Rejoice! Harry Potter Casts a Spell at the de Young Museum


Muggles can now partake in the mysteries of Hogwarts at the de Young Museum. For anyone who's ever dreamed of life as a witch or wizard, learning cool spells and playing Quidditch, now is your time.

You may remember the Games of Thrones exhibit last July at the de Young (or at the Met) where pieces in the museum's collection became real-life inspiration for characters and standout aspects from the series, including the gory Red Wedding and jousting; where attendees' "wits, courage, and dexterity" were put to the test in a battle for the Iron Throne—or at least a fun prize.

The de Young—in partnership with Museum Hack, a New York–based art organization known for its "renegade tours"—is at it again with yet another magical experience: a 90-minute Harry Potter-inspired tour crafted for magical beings and muggles alike.

Designed by local tour guides Casey Selden and Kate Nickles (both major Hogwarts aficionados), the tour relies on the ingenuity of its guides, who tapped their familiarity of the de Young's collection "to connect stories of the art with the characters at Hogwarts," says Selden, since "there aren't any witches or wizards, castles, magic paintings or sculptures at the de Young Museum."

Participants will gather beneath the stairs to begin the journey as Harry did, first with an introduction to the world of wizarding in the African Art Gallery. There, you'll learn about Akan Gold Weights and parallels between West African banking systems and those of Gringots—the Diagon Alley where you can fill your pockets with wizard gold. This is a natural place to begin as students need to collect supplies like wands from Olivanders and pets from the Magical Menagerie.

The next stop is Papua New Guinea, the least visited gallery at the de Young, we're told, to reclaim the term horcrux. Viewers will learn the history of gope boards—wooden ritual objects that represent protective spirits to ward off sickness, evil spirits and death. Sound familiar?

Now its time for the sorting, where, just as at Hogwarts, attendees will be placed into their proper houses based on their personality traits. "For example, Gryffindor, Harry Potter's house, is filled with people who have been selected for their courage, bravery and strength of heart. Ravenclaws are known to be clever, Hufflepuffs are loyal, and Slytherins are ambitious above all other traits," Selden explains.

When planning the tour, several pieces of art were "sorted" into the four houses to illustrate their different characteristics. Attendees are asked to peer into their hearts and select their house in a self-sorting ceremony. Now comes the real challenge. Groups will compete with one another to get the best grades and earn their OWLS—that stands for ordinary wizarding levels, wizarding examinations—in a series of games related to the wizarding world.

Subjects include Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Herbology; the challenge ends with an adapted version of a Quidditch game in the sculpture garden. You won't be flying on broomsticks, but there will be a hidden golden snitch. At the end of the tour, everyone receives a card with their new wizarding job or a certificate of OWLs to take as a badge of honor. You can also pick an art piece as a "happy Horcrux" to place your soul into, should you so desire.


// The tour runs until Feb 10th, 2018, tickets ($39) include admission to the de Young and are available at

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