Friday 9 January 2015

12 Reasons to see this Sherlock Exhibition

by Caroline Lawrence

Sherlock Holmes by Sidney Paget
Readers of my posts will know that like many others I love Sherlock Holmes in all his manifest forms and permutations. I first came across the famous stories by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle when I was growing up in Bakersfield, California. We didn't have a TV and one hot summer afternoon my mother started reading The Hound of the Baskervilles in the cool shelter of our garage. Soon all the other kids in the neighbourhood gathered to listen. Despite the 100º heat we were deliciously chilled by the enthralling tale. 

Later, when I started writing my Roman Mysteries books for kids, I got lots of good ideas from the Sherlock Holmes stories. So why has it taken me three months to go along to the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition at the Museum of London?

Elementary, my dear reader: inertia!

But I finally went along earlier this week... and loved it. 
Here are a dozen reasons why: 

1. Figures from a Sherlockian code!
1. The dancing stick men on the outside of the Museum of London are figures in a code solved by Sherlock Holmes in 'The Adventure of the Dancing Men' from the December 1903 issue of the Strand Magazine. 

2. Can YOU find the way into the Sherlock Exhibition?
2. Once inside the museum, the entrance to the exhibition is via a bookshelf. You have to find the secret way in. (Luckily the staff will help you if you can't figure it out.)

3. Some of the great adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories
3. As soon as you find your way in, you are faced with a bank of screens showing clips from the oldest Sherlock Holmes movies to the latest episodes of BBC's Sherlock. Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's fictional detective has provided lucrative work for literally thousands of writers, actors and film-makers over the past 125 years.

4. One of many posters
4. Vintage posters remind us that Sherlock has been a staple of the theatre, too.

5. Dr Joseph Bell in 1860
5. The exhibition traces the genesis of the character Sherlock Holmes, from the name Conan-Doyle first thought of – Sherrinford Holmes – to the man who inspired him, Dr Joseph Bell. 

6. Hear and see a rare interview with Conan-Doyle

6. In a vintage film interview, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle tells how he came up with the idea for the first scientifically deductive detective. 

7. The first lines of A Study in Scarlet

7. You can see the first lines ever to be written about Sherlock Holmes.

8. photo of a Hansom Cab driver from the exhibition
8. Before I went, I
 wondered why it was being held at the Museum of London. As soon as I went in, I saw why: Sherlock Holmes IS London. The exhibition is full of evocative paintings, photos and maps of London in late 19th and early 20th centuries.

9. Tracking the movements of Holmes and Watson
9. Three maps track the trail of Holmes and Watson in three different cases, using colour-coded pieces of string: yellow for travel by foot; red for by Hansom Cab and blue for by train.

10. One of many atmospheric paintings in the exhibition

10. This Gothic rendition of the Houses of Parliament by moonlight is one of my favourite paintings in the exhibition. It was painted by John Anderson in 1872.

11. Benedict Cumberbatch's coat from Sherlock

11. There are cases and cases of paraphernalia from the actual period, the movies and the TV series... including this coat worn by Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes!

12. Don't forget the gift shop!

12. The gift shop sells Sherlock Holmes mugs, tote bags, chocolate, replica pipes and, best of all, Sherlock and Watson teddy bears!
Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die
So if you are in London, I highly recommend that you make your way by Hansom Cab, omnibus or underground train to the Museum of London before 12 April 2015. The game is afoot! 


michelle lovric said...

to be close to the Cummerbatch coat ... worth it for that alone!

Celia Rees said...

Love the pink button hole. Coded message, do you think?

Susan Price said...

What are you suggesting, Celia?

Susan Price said...

Lovely, fun, post.

Celia Rees said...

It may forever remain a mystery...

Lydia Syson said...

I'd say definitely, Celia! Have just been making a plan to take one of my godsons next month - having given him the New Annotated Short Stories for birthday/Christmas. Hope it goes down just as well with him. Really in the mood now - thanks, Caroline!

Christina Koning said...

Great post. Im a great Holmes fan - as are my (now grown-up) children. This sounds like a 'must-see' - thanks for the heads up!

Clare Mulley said...

Yup, on my list now too, thank you Caroline! I think you've button-holed him Celia...

Caroline Lawrence said...

Thanks, Girls! You are as always so generous with your comments. :-)

Marjorie said...

I d want to see this! (shakes fist at rail companies for increasing all the fares again!) I have a trip to London planned at the start of March, perhaps I shall make it to the exhibition then.

Love the idea of a secret bookcase entrance.