Fall into the world of Victorian England, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and his famous detective with ‘The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes‘ at the Powerhouse Museum. The visual and interactive exhibition explores the world of Sherlock Holmes and his creator.
The exhibition’s launch was an entirely British affair with Beef Wellingtons and cheese scones circling as museum staff donned Victorian garb to usher the crowed through the lobby. There was even a Bobby swinging his baton, declaring ‘Nothing to see here’. We entered the exhibit past a faux brick wall, collected our notebooks, and delved into Holmes’ London to solve a murder. The game was afoot and as usual, Lestrade and Scotland Yard are way off the case.
The exhibit begins with early editions of the Sherlock Holmes series, magazines from the 1890s, and other artefacts of interest. Moved past the glass viewing cases instructions from Sherlock himself began to appear. Each page of the notebook we had received corresponded to different stations where we collected evidence, and learn about different areas of Victorian life including beauty, poisons, botany, and the telegraph.
At each station we stamped images, rubbed etchings, and cut code cyphers into our notebooks, with each revealing new clues and messages, including one from Sherlock which told us to meet him at 221 Baker St.
Alas, we’d missed him! Inside the apartment we were able to passively take in the various rooms on display or challenge our observation skills. I still don’t know where the persian slipper is! Leaving the apartment we are once again instructed by Mr Holmes, first to examine the scene of the crime and then to conduct experiments. More clues are gathered at the crime scene and we create a bullet trajectory before moving through to the experiment stations. Holmes explains that the experiments are vital to solving the case and proving Lestrade and the police wrong. Holmes believes murder, while the police are convinced of suicide.
The gadgets set up are true works of genius – but what else is one to expect in a Sherlock Holmes exhibit or from the detective himself? We experiment with poisons, blood spatter, drag marks and foot prints. It’s real detective work. We punch our answers into our notebooks and solve the case!
The exhibition ends with more displays this time of the detective in popular culture including film posters and costumes from the hit U.S. show Elementary.
Lara Bendeich wishes bustle skirts would come back into fashion for everyday wear but also sees them as a personal safety hazard. Follow her musings at @elleellabee.
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes runs 3 June — 8 October 2017 at the Powerhouse Museum.
The venue and exhibition are accessible.