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Come face to face with creatures from ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and the real animals that inspired them

by Susan and Simon Veness

The Natural History Museum in London, in collaboration with the BBC Studios Natural History Unit and Warner Bros Consumer Products, presents the “Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature” exhibition, debuting Dec. 9.

fantastic beasts
Photos via Blooloop

Always wanted to see a “real” Erumpent horn or dragon skull? You’ll find them in the “Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature” exhibition at South Kensington’s Natural History Museum. Like many elements of J.K. Rowling’s magical worlds, some of the “fantastic beasts” she conjured up have counterparts in the real world, and this exciting new exhibit showcases this intersection between reality and fantasy through displays of creatures from the natural world and specimens and artefacts from the museum’s collections, along with various objects and elements seen in the Harry Potter universe.

fantastic beasts

Discover the ways in which familiar animals inspired mythical creatures from the worlds of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, including how camouflaging abilities of the Demiguise are similar to those of the jaguar, and the fictional Erumpent’s mating rituals compare to those of the peacock spider.

Through explorations with Magizoologist Newt Scamander from the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” visitors will learn about the tools and techniques Scamander and real-life scientists use to make new discoveries, and gain insights into mythical creatures such as the shy Mooncalf and the serpent-like Occamy.

fantastic beasts

Although the exhibit was originally due to open in the museum’s Waterhouse Gallery in Spring 2020, its debut was delayed due to the global pandemic. Now, Clare Matterson CBE, executive director of engagement at the Natural History Museum, expresses her excitement for the new opening date: “We cannot wait to share this thrilling experience with our visitors. No sooner will they set foot inside than they will journey through magical realms and walk alongside the most fascinating creatures in the world.”

But there is a larger story being told, as well. “At the heart of this exhibition is a celebration of all the fantastic beasts we have the privilege of sharing our planet with, and the very real threats they face,” says Matterson. “Visitors will leave with a renewed love of the wonders of nature, and a revived urgency to help protect it.”

fantastic beasts

Those who are unable to visit the museum can enjoy an immersive virtual experience through Google Arts & Culture, in partnership with the Natural History Museum, exploring highlights from the exhibition and hearing fascinating insights from museum scientists and curators.

Tickets for the in-person exhibit will be available starting Nov. 12 on NaturalHistoryMusuem.ac.uk.

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