Museum of London Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

This morning I had the pleasure of attending the press view of the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London – the largest UK exhibition on Sherlock Holmes in over 60 years! It opens to the public tomorrow and I cannot recommend it enough. I have loved Sherlock Holmes as a reader, a student and an avid BBC Sherlock fan, but even if you’re not quite the obsessive that I am, it is still a fabulous collection which is both fascinating and enjoyable. Here’s what I wrote about it for Book2Book. sherlock homes exhibitionThis autumn, the Museum of London opens its doors to celebrate the world of the greatest fictional detective of all time with its Sherlock Holmes exhibition. The collection is, as of today, open to the public until 12 April 2015 and contains a variety of rare treasures in its diverse trove. Highlights include:

  • A rare oil on canvas portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle painted by Sidney Paget in 1897, which has never been on public display in the UK
  • Original pages from Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscript of The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) never before seen in the UK
  • The original manuscript of The Adventure of the Empty House (1903)
  • The iconic Belstaff coat and the Derek Rose camel dressing gown worn by Benedict 
Cumberbatch(!), from the Sherlock BBC television series

As visitors enter through the wonderful bookcase-come-secret-doorway, it is evident that a great deal of enthusiasm and imagination has fuelled this special exhibition. Tracing the history of Sherlock Holmes through the ages, the comprehensive exhibition navigates its viewers through London-esque pathways displaying original manuscripts written in Conan Doyle’s hand (in a section entitled ‘The Genesis of Sherlock Holmes’) right through to his globally recognised protagonist’s portrayals in modern culture (The Many Sides of Sherlock Holmes). Other treats include first copies of The Strand magazine in 1891 alongside drawings by the original illustrator, Sidney Paget. Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London and lead curator of Sherlock Holmes said: ‘Peeling back the layers of Sherlock Holmes, we will reveal the roots of this global icon who has continued to enthral audiences for over 125 years. It is fitting that it be hosted here, in the city which shaped the stories and created such a rich source for its success.’ Those more recently engaged with the Holmes phenomenon through the BBC’s popular Sherlock adaptation will not only appreciate the vast history behind the 21st century detective, but also see his famous costume Belstaff coat and the Derek Rose camel dressing gown, worn by Benedict Cumberbatch himself, on loan from Hartswood Films. A particularly fascinating section of the exhibition focuses on The London of Sherlock Holmes bringing together paintings, drawings, illustrations and photographs to examine how Victorian London and the cultural climate of the day informed Conan Doyle’s stories and characters, interpreting renowned artists and photographers through the prism of Sherlock Holmes and identifying key locations. The stories and images reinforce each other to create the seminal views of Holmes’s London embedded in our cultural memory; a particularly enjoyable journey having stepped in from the very same city from which Conan Doyle took his inspiration. IMG_5477As you walk through the door of 221B Baker Street, recreated to mark the final section of the exhibition, Holmes, the man, is analysed through a series of studies on his analytical mind, his forensic and scientific approach to solving crimes, his ability to go undercover as a master of disguise, and his haracterization as a Bohemian drug taker yet model English gentleman. This is enhanced by a vast collection of objects from the period when Conan Doyle was writing, including costume, to provide a further understanding of the detective’s notorious traits. The exhibition will explain where the ideas originally came from, and their real-world precedence, including the instantly recognisable symbols of the magnifying glass, pipe and deerstalker. Many of these iconic objects have been replicated for purchase in the MoL shop, most notably the ‘Museum of London Tweed’ specially commissioned in collaboration with Christys’ Hats and Lovat Mill. Inspired by the colour palette described in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, along with late Victorian tweed and current menswear trending forecasting data, the ‘sophisticated, contemporary design’ as described by Sean O’Sullivan, Interim Director of Enterprise at MoL, is currently on sale in the form of the deerstalker and flat cap but will soon be appearing at Liberty and Christys’ Hats. Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die is set to be an extremely popular exhibition following in the footsteps of equally impressive events such as the Late London series, described by Antony Robbins, Director of Communications, as part of the Museum’s effort to rebrand and reach a wider audience. With an exhibition as comprehensively vast as this, combined with its modern appeal for today’s society, there is no doubt that this museum will only grow to further demonstrate its admirable innovation and imagination. Check out their brilliant teaser video here! IMG_5480Sherlock Holmes opens at the Museum of London Friday 17 October 2014 until Sunday 12 April 2015. The exhibition is sponsored by Shepherd and Wedderburn and the technology partner is NEC. Adult tickets are £12 (£10.90 without donation), concession tickets (ages 12-15, students, over 60, unwaged and registered disabled) £10 (£9 without donation) and flexible family tickets for 3-6 people (must include at least one child and one adult) are £9.50 per person (£8.50 per person without donation). It is FREE, fast-track entry for Friends of the museum. @museumoflondon – Franny

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