Princeton’s “Muggle Studies 101” Exhibit Deeply Misunderstands Bagels

The Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University had a fun to-do this week called Wand Works, a Harry Potter-themed celebration where the kids could paint their own wands and receive magical books and sundry. But one of their exhibits stood out as something you would expect to see in a Hogwarts classroom or perhaps a wizarding museum: Muggle Studies 101.

Created by Princeton sophmore Téa Wimer (who happens to be studying anthropology and creative writing), the misunderstood Muggle artifacts each have descriptions attached that give us a window into how the wizarding worlds sees non-magical instruments. Here are a few hilarious examples from the exhibit:

Téa Wimer, Muggle Studies 101, Cotsen Children's Library Téa Wimer, Muggle Studies 101, Cotsen Children's Library Téa Wimer, Muggle Studies 101, Cotsen Children's Library Téa Wimer, Muggle Studies 101, Cotsen Children's Library Téa Wimer, Muggle Studies 101, Cotsen Children's Library Téa Wimer, Muggle Studies 101, Cotsen Children's Library

Wimer found the items at a thrift store and enjoyed assigning new meanings to each one:

I think one of the coolest things about this process was that my developing skills as an ethnographer and anthropologist met with my creative side. I’ve always been looking for ways that those two (seemingly separate) parts of my interests can intersect, and even if this seems a bit “silly,” I really enjoyed taking a previously known object and regarding it as an anthropologist might look at an unknown cultural rite or artifact and creatively thinking up a way that a Muggle might use the given object.

I also had to think of myself as a different character sometimes too, as a wizard who is genuinely baffled by Muggles and their weird ways. I think that my child-like curiosity and imagination has never really left me, and that was also a huge plus as the Curator of Muggle Artifacts.

You can find the rest of the exhibit, as well as a Q&A with Wimer on the project over at Pop Goes the Page, the Cotsen Children’s Library blog!

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