Sunday, July 21, 2013


Murder At The Museum—it sounds like the title of a movie, a play, a television show…perhaps even an exciting book.

Or could it possibly be an interactive murder mystery game or murder scavenger hunt played by real people in a real museum?

I've participated in interactive murder mystery games with various themes and locations.  One of them was a three day event starting in Chicago, moving onto a train, and ending in New York City.  Many such events are held in historic old hotels, quite often purported to be haunted, where the atmosphere and surroundings fit the activity. They were all fun activities that I thoroughly enjoyed.

And because of my experience with that, an article I saw a couple of years ago really caught my attention.  It was about a company that organizes murder mystery games and scavenger hunts.  There are several companies that stage these type of events, but this one is a little different.  Their venues consist of major museums in large cities with the characters and clues relating to that museum's specific collections.  The article talked specifically about a murder mystery adventure scavenger hunt that took place inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (pictured above)—not exactly a small, out of the way museum.

The storyline for the particular adventure mentioned in the article has an assistant museum curator questioning the authenticity of a Leonardo da Vinci painting the museum is about to acquire.  He is murdered, but before he dies he leaves a code on his appointment calendar [a tip of the hat to The Da Vinci Code? :) ] in addition to cryptic clues connected to secrets hidden in and on specific works of art in the museum…clues that point to the identify of the killer.  The participants are given 4 suspects (the chief curator who is about to announce the acquisition of the De Vinci painting, a multi-millionire who put up most of the purchase money, the wife of the dead assistant curator, and an art dealer who specializes in Old Master paintings) and need to determine the killer and the killer's motive.

For this particular game, there were 40 people who paid the fee to participate in the museum murder mystery.  They are split up into 10 teams and given 22 questions linked to 22 works of art in the museum.  They're given directions and a map of the museum's galleries.  A traditional scavenger hunt has the players going from house to house collecting specific items on a list provided to them such as a potato peeler or a red pen.  But with the museum game the teams are collecting 22 bits of information about specific pieces of art that answers the questions given them.

Each team headed in a different direction, moving in and out of the numerous galleries in a 2 hour competitive hunt.  The clues and questions are tailored specifically to the museum's collections.  That game storyline can be used in any number of museums with questions and clues changed to fit that museum's collections.

Those participating in the event at the Met all agreed that in addition to being fun, it was very educational.  Those playing the game didn't need a knowledge of art to be involved and they all agreed that they learned several things during the course of the game.

With the success of the museum murder mysteries, the company has recently expanded their menu to include a scavenger hunt for Harry Potter lovers and history themed scavenger hunts in historic locations such as Salem, Massachusetts.

As I said many paragraphs ago, I've participated in several interactive murder mystery games and thoroughly enjoyed them.  And the idea of a scavenger hunt and/or murder mystery game in a major art museum or historic location sounds like a truly fun time.

Have any of you ever been involved in one of these?

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