Museum fun

Mar. 15th, 2012 07:54 pm
pebblerocker: A worried orange dragon, holding an umbrella, gazes at the sky. (Default)
I went with my family to The Poisoners at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It's a murder mystery-themed programme which serves as an excuse to display all sorts of poison-related exhibits, as well as an immersive art and theatre experience. We all have a deep love of Cluedo in my family -- not necessarily the gameplay, but the atmosphere and the suspects and finding of clues and all the conventions of the murder mystery genre -- and The Poisoners was a bit like playing Cluedo with much more interesting props and locations.

On the day we went there was a detective on the scene, walking around talking to people and enlisting our help in solving the mystery; we were very impressed with his private-eye trenchcoat, his stubble, his pencil behind one ear, his Bronx accent which slipped only rarely... I thought even his shoes looked like detective shoes. I wished the actors playing the suspects had been there in person, instead of only in photos. The place was set up in four areas, one decorated as the lair of each suspect: the femme fatale's boudoir with her collection of poisonous plants, snakes and spiders; the marine biologist's submarine, containing a plasticised giant squid and lots of crabs and other sea creatures preserved in jars; the mad scientist's lab (actually the least interesting room, though it had a big button marked DO NOT PUSH); and the poacher's safari hut, featuring various animal skins and a large stuffed wildebeest.

The aim of the game was to figure out what killed Professor Splicer, using the clues hidden in the rooms and around the exhibits, and nail the culprit by finding which of them had that poison in their hideout. The clues weren't difficult to solve (it's fun for everyone but has to be solvable by reading-age children) but some of them were pretty hard to find! All the signs are in both English and Te Reo Maori; I only had time to solve the English clues and pick out Maori words I knew on the other signs, but I'd have liked to try to solve the mystery in Maori too. (Or find out just how badly I can't read Maori now.) And I'm going to have the chance for another go -- the clues have been changed since we went and there's a new mystery to solve! Presumably all the same set-up, but with the signs changed to point to a different item as the solution.

For those (two) of you who are in Auckland, I highly recommend a visit. It's $5 to get in (which includes your clue sheet and the loan of a pencil) and since there were 8 of us we thought it was quite a chunk of money, but after going through we'd all gladly have paid more for such a cool event. The whole thing is really well done; I'm amazed at the creativity and effort that went into putting it together.

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