Hunting for Harry Potter in New York City

Last weekend, our family traveled to New York City to visit my brother and take in some of the touristy highlights. No trip to NYC would be complete without a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but we knew it might be a challenge to keep our daughters (six and eight years old) focused and interested enough to really appreciate the exhibits.

Our kids have really gotten into Harry Potter lately, so we were tickled pink to learn about a tour called “Griffins, Goblets and Gold” at the Met. Offered by a company called e.t.c., the tour gives guests a unique look at the museum by highlighting specific exhibits that feature Harry Potter-esque objects and themes. The tour includes some creative activities and wizarding swag as well.

With the temperature outside hovering around ninety degrees, we were all excited to step inside the museum’s cool, airy entrance hall, where we met Evan Levy, our tour guide and e.t.c.’s founder. Pointing out how the space might remind us of the Great Hall at the fictional wizarding school Hogwarts, Evan handed out notebooks, pencils and instructions for a special scavenger hunt. Throughout our tour, she explained, we’d be hunting for magical objects, known as Horcruxes in the Harry Potter series.

The kids listened with rapt attention; they were totally up for the challenge.

For the next two hours, we explored the museum through the fascinating lens of Harry’s magical world. Not only did both the adults and kids have a great time, it was a wonderful way to introduce our daughters to the Met. Without even realizing it, they were observing, identifying and learning about key parts of our global history and culture. Visiting the museum on our own definitely would not have been as exciting or fun!

Evan mentioned that she will be putting together a Beauty and the Beast tour in the near future, which I imagine will be awesome as well.

This whole experience made me think about how different objects and landmarks in our own community could be reminiscent of favorite books, movies and characters. For example, there is an owl at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center who looks a lot like Harry Potter’s beloved Hedwig, and secluded parts of Lake Michigan might be compared to that creepy Great Lake near Hogwarts where Harry and his classmates compete in a wizarding tournament.

Looking ahead to the dog days of summer when my kids will inevitably complain, “I’m bored,” I’m definitely keeping this concept in mind. Maybe we’ll be super ambitious and create a scavenger hunt of our own!

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