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Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature

'Fantastic Beasts' has been turned into a natural history exhibition — and you can see it at Melbourne Museum.
By Sarah Ward
May 18, 2023
By Sarah Ward
May 18, 2023

As well as giving popular culture some of its most beloved characters of the past few decades, the Harry Potter franchise has also conjured up a whole heap of astonishing critters. The Boy Who Lived himself studied them at Hogwarts, all thanks to textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Then, to the joy of Potter-loving muggles everywhere, that tome became an actual IRL text in 2001.

Every Wizarding World fan knows that that book followed the original Harry Potter novels in making the leap from the page to the screen, resulting in a first film in 2016, then 2018 sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and also 2022's Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. But if you're more interested in the actual fantastic beasts than a movie plot spun around them — and in natural history in general — exhibition Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature has you covered.

First announced in 2020, then premiering at London's Natural History Museum, this is all about critters that fly, scamper and scurry through the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts realm on the page and screen; however, it's also about real-life creatures, specimens and artefacts, too. The exhibition combines beasts from the natural world, the mythical world and the Wizarding World, and was always slated for an international tour. Now, it's Australia's turn to see it, with the showcase displaying at Melbourne Museum from Friday, May 19–Sunday, October 8.

Visitors to Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature will see legendary beasts placed alongside specimens and historic objects, while also venturing through elements from cinema's last two decades. Unsurprisingly, there'll also be a hefty focus on Newt Scamander, the Wizarding World's famed magizoologist as played Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse).

You'll see items from the Natural History Museum's scientific collections, custom-made Wizarding World models, props from the flicks and original artworks from Bloomsbury Publishing. And, you'll also also wander through a celebration of real-life scientists trying to understand the planet's animal inhabitants.

In London, the exhibits included a tiger, a Galápagos marine iguana and a giant oarfish (the planet's longest bony fish) alongside an Erumpent horn and the dragon skull from Professor Lupin's classroom. Patrons were also able to compare the camouflage tactics of a jaguar to those of the Demiguise.

Images: Trustees of the Natural History Museum London.

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