The world’s most famous detective, and the most prolific screen character in film, has recently been brought back into public attention through the numerous adaptations that has happened over the last few years, and with Ian McKellen to soon play the character, it seems unlikely his popularity will wane soon. The Museum of London’s exhibition is seizing this opportunity and explores the influences behind the character, and why he has managed to remain so popular for so long.
Regardless of whether or not you have read or enjoyed the short stories and books – I have only read “The Sign of Four” – if you have any interest in any of the adaptations, then I would recommend this exhibition. It is a very deep investigation of all the influences, with texts from Edgar Allan Poe’s detective stories, as well as the original Sherlock Holme’s stories themselves, and paintings of Victorian London – so that the visitors can fully emerse themselves into the routes and weather which Holmes and Watson experience. Certain points, however, seemed slightly unnecessary and long winded – two whole rooms of Victorian paintings seemed potentially slight overkill. For me, the second best part of the exhibition, was the final room when it compared the original tales with the adaptations, with montages and costumes from the various versions. (The best part, of course, was the book case at the beginning which opened when pushed – it has always been my dream to enter a secret corridor through a hidden panel in a book case, and for now, this will have to do.)
One issue with the exhibition was that it was not laid out very well – it was very popular, and the way that the displays required you to move around made it hard to see each part and to navigate the exhibition. It was also very easy to miss certain parts because of the lack of labelling, and certain parts – for instance the original manuscripts of the stories – being difficult to read, with no written transcript.
Overall, it was a very interesting exhibition that I would recommend visiting if you have read or watched anything based upon the stories.