Elementary, Dear Friends

New Perot Museum exhibit invites sleuths to solve crimes Sherlock Holmes-style

Perot exhibit invites sleuths to solve crimes Sherlock Holmes-style

Even though the character is almost 130 years old, the interest in Sherlock Holmes never seems to wane. Adaptations in recent years have included the movie series featuring Robert Downey Jr., the BBC TV series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and the CBS TV series Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller. Even Dallas Theater Center got in on the act with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has joined in on the fun with the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, which puts visitors in Holmes' shoes so they can attempt to solve a baffling mystery. The exhibit, running February 14 through May 10, takes you back in time to the early 1900s and features only the technology that Holmes would have had at his disposal.

 The exhibit takes you back in time to the early 1900s and features only the technology that Sherlock Holmes would have had at his disposal.

Upon entering, every visitor is handed a notebook with which to record their observations at various points in the exhibit. In an early room dubbed the Underground Station, you collect stamps as you learn about the science of the day, noting how to do ballistics work, determine poisonous chemicals and how to send a telegraph, among others.

It's then on to 221B Baker Street, aka the home of Holmes. Here you're tasked with honing your observational skills, trying to find a variety of objects that are hidden in plain sight. Once you feel you've gotten your brain humming sufficiently, you can move on to the real fun.

You're presented with a purported crime scene, which contains disheveled furniture, a broken bust and a bullet hole in the wall surrounded by blood splatter. Using police notes and messages from Holmes, you're guided through a series of interactive stations to see if the police's theory about the scene holds water or not.

The stations include re-creating footprints and drag marks, determining the trajectory of the bullet, examining different patterns of blood splatter, and looking for possible poisons. Each station gives you multiple answers from which to choose, with only the right answers leading you to the solving of the crime.

For mystery fans, the exhibit is sure to please, as it offers enough difficulty to be challenging for adults, but not so much that kids can't enjoy it as well. It also accomplishes the same goal as the rest of the Perot, disguising education with interactive entertainment so that learning is more fun than work.

The exhibit is accompanied by videos, posters and props from the recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations, giving visitors a brush with Hollywood.

Perot Museum members can get into the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes a couple of days early; it opens to the public on Valentine's Day. It costs extra for all visitors: $10-$12 extra for non-members and $6-$8 more for members.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes
At the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, visitors can re-create a variety of crime scene clues, including footprints. Photo courtesy of Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at Perot Museum of Nature and Science
A disheveled crime scene holds a variety of clues for visitors to study. Photo by Alex Bentley
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes
One difficult activity lets you piece together a shattered bust. Photo courtesy of The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes