When magic’s involved, you’ve got to handle it with care, and this week museum staff in Newcastle will be doing just that as they fine-tune preparations for the opening of a spellbinding exhibition which promises to transport us all back to our childhoods.
When Magic Worlds is finally ready to open at Great North Museum: Hancock at the weekend, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in enchanted worlds peopled by witches, wizards, fairies, elves, dragons and illusionists.
They will be invited to dress the part too at Saturday morning’s launch, with appropriate fairytale outfits on offer to those who might not have their own.
The exhibition, which will run until June 22, is on loan from the The Museum of Childhood, part of London’s V&A, and promises to be one of the GNM’s highlights of the year, with its range of exhibits, including costumes, books, paintings, tricks, puppets and optical toys, designed to tease the imagination.
Among them will be the famous Victorian collection of The Cottingley Fairies photographs which caused a sensation when first published and are expected to draw crowds equally fascinated over a century on.
Taken by two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, the black and white images, apparently capturing the girls’ regular encounters with fairies near their home in Cottingley village, were seized upon by high-profile figures of the day, such as Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as evidence of another world.
And it seems our love of the magical and mysterious is just as powerful now.
“We’re hoping that visitors of all ages will join us in the spirit of illusion and enchantment,” says museum manager Dr Sarah Glynn.
“There is a magic-themed programme of events planned throughout the course of the exhibition which are all free.”
Activities will run alongside the exhibition as visitors explore three different areas of magic: Fantasy, looking at the history of magical tales from the likes Hans Christian Andersen; Illusion which examines the work of magicians; and Enchantment which explores the impact of the weird and wonderful on artists and writers - so fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings will be among those in for a treat.