Sherlock Holmes exhibition: the man who never lived and will never die.
The Museum of London. Wednesday 29th October 2014
Since the BBC Sherlock series started several years ago, I’ve been rediscovering how much I love the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson. I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles many many years ago, but until recently I was not familiar with the other stories. During the next few years I’ve watched every version I’ve come across on TV, in particular the Rathbone and Bruce series of films, the updated versions for TV Sherlock and Elementary, and the Robert Downey Jr/Jude Law films. And, of course, I’ve gone back to the very beginning and started reading the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories. I adore intelligent writing!
As soon as I heard that The Museum of London had opened an exhibition to showcase the work of Conan Doyle and his most famous of creations (I’m sure much to his dismay!), I just had to see it. I had in fact never been to this particular museum before, so I made sure I had the whole day free to explore.
They request that no photographs be taken inside the exhibit, so I was a good girl and obeyed the rules! I made sure to pay close attention to everything on show, and also to read every description on the panels beside each display, so let’s see how much I can remember!
This exhibition has everything you could possibly want to know and see in relation to our favourite consulting detective. I could not disguise the thrill of seeing those two little words written in the hand of Conan Doyle himself! The displays combine into one enormous love letter to Holmes and Watson, and their beloved city: London.
Firstly we are treated to international film posters. Next are the original manuscripts of some of the stories, notably the first “A Study in Scarlet”. In addition some original pages from one writer who was an inspiration to Conan Doyle: Edgar Allan Poe. There are original illustrations of the characters by Sydney Paget on display. There is so much artwork to admire throughout the show, some honourable mentions must go to the Foggy London scene by Monet in amongst a plethora of other works which capture the weather and environment of London at that time, and the JMW Turner watercolour of The Reichenbach Falls later on as you walk through. I particularly enjoyed the paintings which showed the streets of London by night in the rain; the way the artists can capture the light in some of these is extraordinary. The names of the specific artists do escape me, sadly!
Modes of transport utilised by Holmes in each investigation are described, plotted on the maps of the era, and again multiple examples of art and photographs of hansom cabs, trains, horses and automobiles.
Sherlock Holmes’ methods of deduction, investigation and forensic analysis of the late 19th century are broken down into areas of interest. From weaponry, fingerprinting, methods of communication, and chemical analysis. Interspersed with clips from the movies, and TV shows from every age and incarnation. Holmes’ use of tobacco and drugs is explored in a very matter of fact way, neither glorifying nor condoning his actions, these substances were never controlled at that time as they are now, their use was common and unremarkable.
The iconic costumes of past and present incarnations are also on display; the famous tweet long coat and deerstalker hat, and the long dark woollen Belstaff coat and blue scarf from the BBC series. In addition there is a dressing gown, previously worn by a certain Mr Cumberbatch, along with examples of furniture and a violin! You can in fact buy one of two dressing gowns featured in the BBC series in their souvenir shop – IF you have a spare £300, that is! I just came away with a pretty Sherlock keyring and shopping bag!
The exhibition closes with and audio/visual Reichenbach Falls experience, which I found quite relaxing! Until the watery sounds made me need to pee!
My recollections here only really touch the surface of what you can actually find throughout the exhibit. I highly recommend seeing for yourself.
The Museum of London.
Having paid for entry into the Sherlock exhibition, it made sense to take advantage of the free offerings at the Museum of London. As I said earlier, I had never been here before, and was unaware of how much they had on show, our how well it was arranged. The answer is: there is a hell of a lot to see, all arranged chronologically from prehistory to the present day. Through the Romans, Saxons, Victorians, Elizabethans, via the Great Fire of London, the fight for Suffrage, and the fashions of the 1960s and beyond. Many areas of interest are interactive, which is great for keeping the younger attendees entertained, ranging from props you can pick up and handle to touch-screen (or touch-table in some places!) games and displays. I particularly enjoyed the Victorian Street, where you can wander around and into the various shops, and even have a sit down in their (non-functioning) pub!
Towards the end of the long walk through the museum, you can also view the “Olympic cauldron” i.e. the receptacle for the flame lit at the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. I’ve never been that big of a sports fan per se, I can’t bring myself to watch sport, but I’ll have a go playing from time to time. But the London games kicked off on the 27th of July, which I will always remember because it’s my birthday!
I can now quite conclusively say that The Museum of London is an excellent day out for all the family. And if you have any love for literature, London or Sherlock Holmes, then definitely go there for the exhibition.
Now, I did not get to see it myself (it was unveiled the following week!) but now you can also view one of the Paddington Bear sculptures, dressed as a consulting detective, designed by our Mr Cumberbatch! That’s got to be worth the train journey alone!
As I still had a little time on my hands, I finished my day by braving the pouring rain (well persistent soaking drizzle) and walking to one of the filming locations for the BBC Sherlock show: St Bartholomew’s Hospital is right around the corner from the Museum.
Finally, on my way to the train station, I swung via Speedy’s cafe and the famous door. And ended up in a local pub to rest my feet before my train left. Hooray!