Powerhouse Museum: The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes [Review]

SherlockLocation: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney CBD,  SydneyAustralia

Date completed:  August 2017.

Creativity: 6.5; Difficulty: 3.5; Atmosphere: 8.5; Fun: 7

Requirements:

  • Fluent English
  • Adult: $27; Concession: $25; Child (4–16): $16

I’ve always liked visiting Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum since I was a kid. With it’s enormous displays on all manner of transport, space travel and other technology, I was never bored. Over the last decade, the museum has had a number of interesting exhibitions which cater to my geeky side: Star Wars, Harry Potter…  and now, The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. 

Admittedly, interest in the Great Detective was always a thing with Pá but I’ve come to appreciate Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation through the last few years if for no other reason than the mysteries being set in one of my favourite settings – Victorian England. This exhibition takes visitors back 200 years to the era of the Industrial Revolution, rampant crime and incredible developments in science through an interactive adventure. Time to put on a quaint accent, a hat and a carry a walking stick.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes is suitable for all ages even if the subject matter is quite grisly. Victorian era London was a nasty place after all.

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With numerous first editions and an original The Strand magazine with a Sherlock serial (bottom right), this bookcase is possibly worth more than my apartment.

Once visitors enter, the first part is really to set the scene and the displays revolved around the development of forensic science, particularly at the University of Edinburgh and the influence they would play Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation. There are plenty of descriptions of the practices of the time, the development of the Metropolitan Police along with priceless first editions and manuscripts.

Once the ‘conventional’ part is done, visitors get issued a note book which is the basis of the interactive displays aimed to teach basic principles around the evolving scientific and forensic fields of the time. Although the displays are aimed at teenagers and above, it was fun to play around with microscopes and brush up on my Morse with a live telegraph machine.

Players are then transported to a beautifully reconstructed set for 221B Baker St where they’ll practice their observation skills before tackling a missing persons case complete with an actual scene of crime. To deduce what is going on beyond Lestrade’s initial observations, couched heavily in the theoretical, visitors will have to follow fact-based steps outlined in the issued notebook concerning toxicology/botanics, blood spatter, ballistics, footprint analysis and basic cryptography .

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Whodunnit?!?!?

None of the tasks are hard by any measurement although we did find that older kids and young teenagers got the most out of it. Don’t be too overconfident though, we saw confused adults towards the end…  but they were in the minority.

The final displays showcase props used in modern representations of the detective, such as TV series Sherlock and Elementary and Guy Ritchie’s movies with Robert Downey Jr.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes will be at the Powerhouse Museum until 8 October so if you are a fan of the Great Detective and have some spare time while in Sydney, check it out.

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Sydney also hosts escape rooms inspired by Sherlockian lore, if your brain cells feel like more exercise after the visit to the museum. Some delve deeper into the setting, others are just loosely influenced. Click on the links to read our reviews on Next Level Escape, Social Escape and Escape Hunt Sydney.

 

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