Discover over 200 fascinating artefacts revealing how magic and its practice has been used to help, heal and harm, across the world, over the centuries. Do you believe in magic? is Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s major winter exhibition, now extended until 28 February 2021 and sponsored by InsideAsia Tours.

Do you believe in Magic? CREDIT Jamie Woodley and Bristol Museums

Image credit: © Jamie Woodley and Bristol Museums

Reopening on the 15 September (following its temporary closure since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown), Bristol Museum & Art Gallery has decided to extend this popular exhibition,  meaning more visiting opportunity for those who have not already experienced it… or want to do so again! Magic and the supernatural has after all been long-intertwined with human history, offering various ways of interacting with, understanding and even attempting to change the world. From sacred uses to the sinister, the cultural practice of magic has wide implications.

Do you believe in magic? delves deep into history to explore the subject, including the ancient uses of witchcraft, and belief in gods, spirits and ancestors. As part of this, the complex links between magic, science and religion are considered, with the varied artefacts on display allowing for fascinating insight into different perspectives and practices.

The artefacts themselves have been carefully chosen from the museum’s extensive collections and include North American shamanic items, magical animals, intricately preserved plants, beautiful clothing and spiritual figurines, as just some examples. There is even a preserved cat that was found bricked into the wall of a cottage, presumably for spiritual reasons or as a kind of charm.

Do you believe in Magic? CREDIT Jamie Woodley and Bristol Museums

Image credit: © Jamie Woodley and Bristol Museums

Visitors to the exhibition can experience a spell wall with incantations, stories and charms from the local community, as well as a circular table of historic amulets from across the centuries. Amulets have after all been carried by many people, cultures and traditions, often as good luck symbols or a sort of protection – during wartime, for example. Even concepts such as superstition and some of sayings still used today, the likes of ‘I’m enchanted’ and ‘That’s put a spell on you’, highlight how magic still shows its presence in popular culture and everyday life.

Far from just the ‘magicians’ of children’s parties, Do you believe in magic? also Illuminates the wide-spanning, ongoing influence of magic and the culture surrounding it. Did you known that Bristol even has its own magic society – The Bristol Society of Magic – founded in 1921?

Do you believe in Magic? CREDIT Jamie Woodley and Bristol Museums

Image credit: © Jamie Woodley and Bristol Museums

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, reflected on the significance of the exhibition:

“The more we investigate our world, the more questions arise. This exhibition looks at how people use magic to make sense of the world and attempt to influence what happens in it. Bristol’s collection is incredibly rich with objects that show how different cultures have viewed the supernatural throughout time. I’m thrilled to see these precious items on display and I’m certain the exhibition will mesmerise visitors. I’d like to thank the exhibition sponsor, InsideAsia Tours for their generous support.”

In addition to the range of items on display, there is also forward-thinking digital content, immersing the viewer in animation, film and an interactive UV experience. Recommended for ages 14+, this is an exciting visit and entry is on a pay-as-you-feel basis. Prepare to fall under its spell…

This is just one of many exhibitions at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, which has been inspiring visitors and local people since 1905, with twenty galleries and a variety of artefacts. Following the re-opening on the 15 September, all visits must be pre-booked and more information is available on the website here.

Related

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Museum
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery exterior

Museum and art gallery exhibiting some outstanding collections of art, archaeology, Egyptology and natural history in a magnificent building

Do you believe in Magic? at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Exhibition
Do you believe in Magic? at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

From ancient uses of witchcraft to the role superstition plays in the modern mind, this exhibition will uncover how magic has been used to heal, hunt and harm across the world.