I took a trip to Edmonton over the Victoria Day long weekend and had a chance to stop by the Telus World of Science to check out the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been a big fan of all things Sherlock since I can remember – I read the books in elementary school, and I’ve loved basically every incarnation of Sherlock on TV and in the Movies that exists, so to say that I was excited about this exhibit is an understatement.
I’ll admit that going into the exhibit I didn’t know what to expect. I had read a bit about it but when there’s something that I really want to see I try my best to avoid gathering too much information beforehand. Let me just say that I am so happy that I didn’t spoil things for myself because I was giddy with excitement when they handed us a little booklet to use to help us gather information and SOLVE A CRIME. Yes, you read that correctly… you get to solve a crime.
Put on your detective hat, because the exhibit takes you through a variety of rooms and activities that require you to use your investigative skills, keen observation and of course forensic techniques to help Sherlock prove that Scotland Yard’s investigation into the the crime may not be exactly what it seems.
The exhibit starts out with Arthur Conan Doyle’s study; a collection of inspirations, memorabilia, transcripts and letters. It’s here where you’ll find things like original manuscripts, medical and forensic texts, and medical tools that influenced Dr. Conan Doyle while writing Sherlock.
You then find yourself in the Underground Station, this is where all the fun begins! Instead of the usual exhibit map, you’re given a booklet that you will use to record clues, and eventually see whether or not you solved the crime. This room takes you though all kinds of information about Victorian era London and the types of things that would have been used at the time to investigate crimes – ballistics, botany, and cosmetics are some of the topics you’ll encounter. In this same room you’ll have the opportunity to test out a working telegraph, make a rubbing of the news to uncover a secret message, and try to line up a bullet’s trajectory using a laser pointer. As you work your way through this room collecting information you’ll stamp your booklet using the machine at each station; a great way to help you keep track and make sure you didn’t miss anything!
You then move on to Baker Street where you encounter the scene of the crime and immerse yourself in the world of Sherlock Holmes. You’ll closely examine the scene, and move on to what was in my opinion the best part of the exhibit – the forensic tests! The exhibit houses a whole room dedicated to hands-on testing of the “evidence” you collected through your observation of the crime scene. Blood splatter machines (if you’re squeamish you may want to skip this station), testing for possible poisons, and figuring what could have made a set of mysterious marks in the sand are all things you’ll be able to do in this room. Each of these stations allows you to decide what you think the correct answers are to questions posed at the station themselves in regards to what actually happened and the results your tests uncovered; your choices here will determine whether or not you actually “solved” the crime!
Of course, whether or not you actually “solved” the mystery doesn’t matter (except for bragging rights) as you’re able to see what really happened on your way to the final room.
As you leave you can take a walk though the Culture of Sherlock where you’ll find costumes and items from the various incarnations of Sherlock in the media. This includes Elementary, BBC’s Sherlock, and the Sherlock Holmes movies ft. Robert Downey Jr in addition to Sherlock-themed games, comics, and other merchandise. It’s a great ending to the exhibit, wrapping up your walk through the legacy of Sherlock Holmes.
The mystery itself was written by an officially sanctioned Sherlock Holmes writer, so Sherlock fans have no need to fret – things feel very “Sherlockian” I assure you. I was blown away by all the detail that went into the exhibit, the crime scene and rooms are all incredibly intricate, and there’s so much for you to do. I definitely enjoyed myself way more than I have at any exhibit I’ve been to. Overall, I absolutely loved my time at the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes and I’m very grateful to have had a chance to check it out at its only Canadian stop at the Telus World of Science. If you’re a Sherlock fan, I highly recommend visiting the exhibit if one of its final stops is near you; the exhibit remains at TWOSE until September 5, 2016 at which point it will head to Seattle, WA and finally Sydney, Australia.
…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
– Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four
A huge thank you to Mike at Telus World of Science – Edmonton for providing the pictures for this post (because I’m a bad blogger and completely forgot to take any) and for helping me make sure I had all my facts straight.