Harry Potter design museum dazzles London

Why is the house MinaLima important?

It's a Harry Potter exhibition celebrating the work of Mina & Lima, they're dreamers and doers who have made it, and made it so well they thrilled JK Rowling. You could do worse.

And it's not just prints it's everything, any prop which needed some flair. Remember 'Muggle worthy' dial on Newt Scamander's case? You know what I thought?

We're back.
That's the MinaLima love.

  1. Graphic designers for Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts
  2. Designed the 'Pottermore presents' ebook covers
  3. Spent 2 years designing all of the graphic elements in Diagon Alley at Universal's Wizarding World

Who are Mina & Lima?

In 2001 Miraphora Mina was working on some weird wizard movie when Eduardo Lima stepped of the boat from Brazil. Ach, I'll let them tell the story...

Ground floor - the shop

The shop is a treasure of Potter design. It might appear expensive, but it’s limited edition prints, aimed at people who’ve perhaps stepped onto the property ladder and want a talking point, or just something they cherish on their walls.

It’s a Quidditch mile more adult than papering the walls with chocolate frog cards, and the other merch that enchanted all well-spent youths. And there's still something charming for every pocket.

1st floor - the Daily Prophet newsroom

Pinch in to see the gold foiled P of the daily Prophet, fishooked by a ebullient T from 'The'. Such caring detail

You can see many creative Daily Prophet headlines but for the news articles body text the font Orma Ipson is used, they’re passages of fake Latin, playing on the fact Muggles can’t read it.

Mina & Lima tried writing articles with random words but they ended up looking fake so they thought 'may as well create suitable headlines'.

Museum display of Harry Potter's Daily Prophet

They really thought through what the repercussions in the world would be...

  1. "Hogsmeade house price crash", because they know troubles brewing around Hogwarts, so everyone's scarpering.
  2. You've got 'Where do we get our wands now', now that Ollivander has been abducted by Deatheaters.
  3. The Wizarding world is coming undone and the trodden upon Goblins are seizing the moment to rise up "Goblin negotiation talks break down".

Very little can be taken in with kinetic camera movements but what you catch richens the world, and broadens the reality.

When JK Rowling visited, she asked who had devised the headlines. Mina said, "Oh sorry, us". She needn't have worried, Rowling loved it.

2nd floor - Weasleys Wizard Wheezes
with Maurderers map floor!

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" was on each step as we climbed to the the second floor.

Beware the floors are uneven and as you wind your way up a rickety staircase which squeezes narrower as you climb, the rooms also seeming to shrink. It brings to mind the burrow, or the Leaky Cauldron, or most likely any shop along heaving Diagon Alley.

MinaLima told Pottermore the building immediately reminded them of Sirrus Black's Grimmauld Place, and they asked for the lease on the spot. Now it's painted eye popping pink. Can't imagine what Sirrus's mother Walburga would make of that. Probably need counselling.

Pan down, the floor sized Maurders map includes details not found on smaller versions

The iconic rug-sized map is what makes Potter fans drool with envy. Mina says she this is what she's most proud off, perhaps because it was revised and enrichened across the films.

  1. To the left is the Black family tree tapestry
  2. To the right, in a suitably loud orange alcove is the Weasley twin products

For most of the time Mina & Lima had free reign, just checking in with the producers. However for the Black Tapestry and Weasley twins’ joke shop products they communicated directly with JK Rowling.

An exhibition of the Black family tapestry from Harry Potter
The Noble family of Black, Grimmauld Place's wallpaper, black sheep burned out

Their design was particularly precious to her and she described MinaLima's workshop at Leavesden Studios as "my favourite room on Earth."

3rd floor - fireplace phantoms

Mina and Lima love their lavish gold and silver foil effects, the big P of Daily Prophet, or the gorgeous cover of Newt’s textbook Fantastic Beasts above the Fireplace.

Pinch-out to zoom into the Harry's letter bomb

But for the Hogwarts acceptance letter, one of many hundreds each year, it required something plainer. So you get the stamp crest of Hogwarts, and the red wax seal, and the luxurious italic handwriting by Dumbledore*, all reaching into earlier times.

*Well probably more often by a self-writing quill he imported from ‘Voges Quills of Distinction’. You really think Albus wrote every letter in the Dursley’s letter bomb?

Museum display of Wizarding books from Harry Potter
The book design is a play on James Bond's opening credits silhouette

I love the Mudblood book, it's just so creepy, everybody reaching out to get you.

I also love the Ministry of Magic’s fascist propaganda posters design and colours, echo fascist and soviet designs. They build on our reality helping them resonate.

The assistants are wonderfully helpful, some are passionate Harry Potter fans. Hannah Oakley is a design graduate, she explained the philosophy is "ground everything in a familiar reality, then take it 2 degrees off".

A textbook on magical waterplants at London's Harry Potter exhibition
The foiled text echo bubbles rising & reeds waving in an undercurrent

4th floor - Fantastic Beasts!

The Paris setting of Fantastic Beasts 2, is their favourite so far.

Witch lipstick ad at London's Harry Potter exhibition
The Blind pig lipstick because wizards are blind to witches true quality

This is the poster enchanted to conceal the entrance to the jazz club speakeasy Newt Scamander visits in New York.

MinaLinma just loved working on the art deco twenties new York stuff, but, design-wise going to Paris is like upgrading from a nimbus to a Firebolt. Eduardo’s obviously having a slightly better time because he doesn’t have hair whipping his face.

They’ve kept the Daily Prophet’s pointy finger in the new era, using it in the New York Ghost and elsewhere to knit the wizarding world together, showing they share DNA.

The Witches Friend, a NYC gossip mag at London's house of MimaLina
I love all the bold triangular sections dividing the page yet bound together with the sunburst, so eye catching

The new world's wizarding society is turbo bigoted regarding magic-muggle coupling. Yet fascinated by Muggle, or No-Maj ways. It's like the bible bashing politican, drawn to kinky sex acts. MinaLima continue to gift Rowling's worlds a texture of reality.

Want it all? Guess you're just gonna have to visit.

A finger points to Harry Potter Museum house of MinaLima

OK just a little bit more...

Mima & Lina start hanging their Harry Potter exhibition

Experiential Workshops

A group makes paper plane memos at London's Harry Potter Museum
Guided creation of the Ministry of Magic's inter-department paper plane memos. Because Owls...

Well this is a water-cooler story for any design loving Potter head. At the time of writing they run Thursdays and Fridays. Check out MinaLima's workshops.

Just interdepartmental memos. We used to use owls, but the mess was unbelievable... droppings all over the desks...
Arthur Weasley explains the memos to Harry Potter

When to go

It's extremely busy on weekends, so a weekday is best, ideally a tour day, usually Mondays & Tuesdays, when the wonderful expert guides can lavish you with personal attention bringing the exhibition to life.

MinaLima actually recommend visiting on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays to have the best experience.

1 minute from the Cursed Child's theatre & absolutely essential

Could be worse

From the uneven, twisting stairs to the Dursley letter bomb, the exhibition brought a smile at every turn. "Bewitch, Beguile", it says above the daily prophet shield and MimaLina's Harry Potter museum did just that. Thankyou world.

Nearby

This Harry Potter tour for Muggles doesn't start nearby, but ends 5 minutes walk away.
Or 400 miles away enjoy my Harry Potter tours of Edinburgh. Only 4.5 hours on the train!

Credits

Warner Brothers loaned props.
The guides were excellent, sadly I didn't take all their names, but the design reflections are theirs, the prattle mine.
Pottermore's article on MinaLinma's Harry Potter exhibition.
Discover MinaLima's graphic magic in clips from the Harry Potter films.