From police procedures to paperback novels, murder mysteries are a big part of our culture. Whether you’re watching CSI, reading a James Patterson novel, or playing Clue, you owe a lot to Sherlock Holmes. And from now till May 10, you can be Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson, at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes.
As you enter the dark exhibition hall, a museum employee hands you a notebook that you will use to solve the mystery at hand. (There are also “junior” notebook for younger children.) Before you start looking for clues, you learn about Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and his fascination with the 19th century’s rapid advancements in forensic science. You also learn about Holmes’ real-life inspiration, Dr. Joseph Bell, as well as other medical examiners who started applying science to detective work.
The second room of the exhibit is more hands-on. You stop at several stations, collecting stamps in a notebook while learning about the latest in Victorian technology: photography, telegraphy, ballistics and more. At the final station, you decipher a coded message from Sherlock Holmes, and move to his study at world’s most famous fictional address: 221B Baker Street.
From Sherlock’s messy Westminster flat, you proceed to a roped-off crime scene teeming with clues: a broken ceramic bust, a bullet hole, a blood splatter, a mysterious seed pod, and strange tracks in the sand. You read bulletins from Inspector Lestrade of the Metropolitan Police (aka Scotland Yard), as well as handwritten notes from Holmes himself. You make hypotheses based on the information given, and test your hypotheses and different places around London. All along the way, you record your findings in your notebook, lining up clues to solve the mystery.
After you crack the case, you come upon a display of posters for Sherlock Holmes TV and movie adaptation, representing a tiny fraction of Sherlock Holmes influence in modern media. At the opening of the exhibition, Colleen Walker, the Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, discussed the continuing growth of “Sherlockian” fandom. “We are all Sherlockians now,” she said. Whether or not you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan now, you probably will be after a visit to this exhibition.
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes is open to the public until May 10, 2015. Tickets, which include general admission to the rest of the museum, are $29 for adults (18-64), $23 for seniors (65+) and $21 for youth (2-17). Member tickets are $8 for adults (18-64), $7 for seniors (65+) and $6 for youth (2-17). General admission to the Museum and entry into the exhibition is free for children under 2. All displays and exhibits in the exhibition are available in both English and Spanish. For more information, visit perotmuseum.org.