Elementary! Help Mr. Holmes catch the crook
Several years ago, my kids pulled a dusty tome, three inches thick, off the bookshelf…their father’s ancient copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. We’ve read aloud all 60 of these famous detective stories more than once, and many times the boys have gone back on their own to revisit favorite crime scenes.
Dwelling with his work in this way, it got to the point where we were able to get inside the head of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and could almost figure out whodunit before he told us. Mystery lovers of all ages have another unique opportunity to get inside this famous writer’s head at the Science Museum of Virginia where Sherlock Holmes seems to have taken over.
Gumshoes of all types can walk the streets of Victorian London searching for clues in “Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery.” My young sleuths and I experienced this exhibit when it was at the Danville Science Center (an affiliate of SMV) last year, and we absolutely loved it. Visitors really get into the story in which a body has been discovered in Croydon Tower, and Watson wannabe’s follow the clues through seven chapters trying to identify the killer.
My boys and I had the most terrific time playing with various hypotheses, checking the facts, and reworking our logic to come up with a solution. At Chapter 8, we amateurs get to meet and consult with the great detective himself (actor Allen Meyer travels with this exhibit portraying the character of Mr. Holmes) to see how our deductions add up. Here’s a tip: the riddle requires one to think outside the pages, so to speak.
Along with this puzzling exhibit, the museum is peppered with other investigative opportunities. The play “Sherlock Chromosome, Scientific Detective, and the Case of the Twisted Ladder” is being performed in the Carpenter Science Theatre. Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet,” the character Chromosome sets out to discover whether a single link in the chain of life (can it possibly be DNA?) can paint the whole picture.
Upstairs in the permanent Bioscape exhibit, crime-solvers might also want to explore “Science Sleuth Theater” where the fictional agent J. N. Panda needs help with another murder mystery. And activities in Science Lab 1 help aspiring PI’s learn how to turn forensic evidence like fingerprints, strands of hair, and bits of fiber into clues that help solve crimes.
We highly recommend this capital collection of crime-solving fun for deductive logicians of all ages. And don’t forget your deerstalker hat and calabash pipe.
The Sherlock Holmes exhibit and play are at the Science Museum of Virginia through August 31. Everything is included in the price of admission, which also lets you see all the permanent exhibits too. 2500 West Broad Street in the old train station. 800-659-1727. www.smv.org.