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Sherlock exhibit invites visitors to play detective and solve a mystery

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

It’s as if you’re taking a trip across the pond more than a century ago to 221 B Baker Street. It’s where you’d find Sherlock Holmes.

“Sherlock Holmes, he’s the world’s greatest detective. I mean, he has entertained generations of people,” said President and CEO of Liberty Science Center Paul Hoffman.

At Liberty Science Center, visitors can solve their own mystery and pretend to be Holmes. They’re invited into his sitting room and eventually led to the crime scene that was created specifically for the exhibit. There they gather four pieces of evidence that need to be tested.

“There are incredible interactives here, like what kind of tracking does a body make if you drag it. You actually get to drag a body and see what the tracks are in the sand or dirt, and that could be important,” Hoffman said.

The “detectives” go on to determine how a sculpture was broken or if a poisonous plant was involved. They also use machines to analyze the type of bloodstain pattern on the wall. For Hoffman it’s not just about solving a crime, it’s about understanding the science behind it.

“Crime solving has always involved a lot of science, but now, where we are in this age, it is completely tied up in science,” Hoffman said.

Along the way visitors meet lots of people interested in solving the mystery, but they didn’t expect to speak to a special visitor.

“I am the step great-great-granddaughter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote Sherlock Holmes,” said Tania Henzell. “Everyone knows about Sherlock. He’s so popular at the moment. It’s quite amazing.”

Henzell decided to create the Sherlock Holmes tartan. Her thoughts on the exhibit?

“It’s very good because it makes children try and solve crimes and it might bring a new detective to life,” she said.

Holmdel resident April Licato said the unknown mystery is fascinating.

“I think people always want answers,” she said.

“I think it’s the satisfaction of figuring it out for yourself that attracts people to these mysteries. I think coming up with them is also fun,” Hoffman said. “I think in an age where all of us are spending more time on digital media, this coming together in person. There’s a real increase in that because as human beings we have that social need.”

After testing each piece of evidence, if visitors determine what really happened, they’re given yet another clue from Sherlock and that ultimately leads to solving the mystery. Of course we won’t tell. The exhibit is open through May.