Friday, August 12, 2011

holiday madness and a weekend with holmes

Many apologizes for the lack of posts this week.  It's been absolutely crazy here- for some reason things at work have exploded, which I strongly suspect has to do with the fact that I leave for Eastern Europe in a little over one week from today and things need taken care of before I leave for both my full-time job and my part-time one.  That, and the continuing saga of my apartment's collapsing ceiling (which has FINALLY been taken care of... for now) have taken up a great deal of my time and slightly raised my stress levels.

For now I will post about an event going on at Blists Hill Victorian Town outside Ironbridge, Shropshire.  I've never heard of the place, but it is

This Saturday and Sunday Blists Hill will be a 19th century crime scene worthy of the skills of the Victorian era's own consulting detective- Sherlock Holmes- for Sherlock Holmes Weekend:
Are you an amateur sleuth and budding private detective? If so, you can help Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson solve a mysterious crime, which has taken place at Blists Hill Victorian Town over the weekend of Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 August. Come along and try your hand at forensic science, taking fingerprints, printing reward posters and matching plaster cast footprints to different shoes.

You can follow the trail of clues around the open-air museum and put your powers of deduction to the test helping the eccentric private detective and his side-kick to solve the curious mystery of treasure stolen from the Earl of Craven’s mansion.

Holmes and Watson will be on hand during the weekend to discuss the crime and talk about recent cases.
As a bonus Mrs. Hudson, the dynamic duo's housekeeper, will be joining them on their pursuits at Blists Hill. I wish there had been something like this in a nearby historic sight (such as the Frick Mansion in Wilkinsburg) when I was younger.  Heck, I still wish there was something like this event going on.

What I probably should do is join a volunteer program committee of a museum that is open to holding not-quite-historically-accurate events such as Blists Hill Victorian Town appears to be- they also have an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party that will be taking place in two weeks.

Making connections using the time period of a museum and literature or characters that 21st century visitors may be familiar with is often an excellent way to draw in people to a museum that do not have an interest in history.  At the museum where I used to work I created an 18th century tea program, even though our museum covered a battle between British forces and Native American warriors that had nothing to do with tea.  What I did to connect the two was give visitors the history of tea's introduction to the British colonies of North America and described how it would have been used on the Western Pennsylvanian frontier of 1763.  That, and the persona I assumed in my 18th century genteel dress was that of one of the frontier women connected with the battlefield.  The program brought in many women and girls who would not have visited a battlefield's museum otherwise, and left them curious to see our other, more military-geared events in the future.  It continues to be a successful event one and a half years after its conception.

Kudos to Blists Hill Victorian Town for using unique ways to draw in visitors!

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