“The Game is Afoot!” – as you will be reminded every ten minutes or so in your exploration of the latest traveling exhibit to hit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I had the privilege to visit on Halloween this year, and will do my best to sell this experience briefly and with only the facts. It’s the sequel to Power of Poison, with an added, overt literary connection. What’s more, this exhibit also is quite hands-on, with enough diversity for any visitor. So read on, dear traveler, for the evidence of a great adventure and fabulous rewards with Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective!
This is a ticketed exhibit, meaning there is an extra fee besides admission as well as a certain time-slot you are to attend within. Taking up a sprawling space within this incredible building, the Sherlock Holmes exhibit is cross-curricular, diabolical delight. Literary history and influence, forensics and the influential experiments of Victorian science, pop culture studies, and hands-on experimentation are all wrapped up in good, old-fashioned mystery. Each guest gets a notebook to record their observations, learning more about the culture and social strata of Victorian London along the way. The notebook itself is packed with clues and winking allusions to the great detective.
The first section is literary, filled with interesting artifacts and media covering inspiration and influence – including Poe, serial publication, high profile murder, and the emblematic energies of the British Empire at its height. Following this area, searchers find themselves in a reproduction of 221 B Baker Street. Here, details and easter eggs from the many cases of Holmes and Watson are hidden throughout. The next room holds the highlight for many visitors – the case study. Investigators are asked, by Holmes, to help solve a mystery involving five deductive/inductive exercises – hands-on stations pertaining to the bullet, the seed, the footprints, the newspaper, and the suspicion of murder. You may occasionally be
harassed helped by overzealous museum guides – some dressed in Victorian personas – trying to move the investigation along. To avoid some of the crowds, arriving early is a must, and you might have more space to your own sleuthing without considerate peeping by that most troublesome occurrence – other people.
Following your (hopefully) accurate conclusions, the mystery is solved and visitors get one last peek at their favorite incarnations of Holmes, from Basil Rathbone and The Great Mouse Detective to Downey Jr., Cumberbatch, and Lucy Liu’s Watson. The gift shop is also quite inviting, but you might check with me to see what I already purchased so you won’t have to (basically the whole store). There are, of course, great sales-pitches here for any of your teachers’ field trip needs, but if unable to go as a class you have until the end of January to make your own visit. There is also a teens-only event on November 21st: Sherlockian Clue: Museum Edition. Extra credit will rain down upon you after any visit (and maybe a project grade for the BritLit seniors), but especially for anyone who can attend this special event. In summary, this is definitely one of the coolest exhibits to ever reach our area, and you can revisit Power of Poison while you’re there! Investigate Sherlock before it vanishes into the fog of the gaslamps. Elementary, indeed.