Interactive OMSI exhibit lets you solve mysteries with Sherlock, Watson

PORTLAND, Ore. - With the push of a button, visitors examine and compare blood spatter.

With the pull of a handle, they test out footprints and drag marks in sand.

Piece by small piece, they put a broken bust back together to figure out how it was broken.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry's (OMSI) latest feature exhibit is far from ordinary. Conceived two years ago, the interactive Sherlock Holmes exhibit is now up and running at the museum.

"Sherlock is an amazingly accessible literary character," said Kristi Falkowski, OMSI's senior science educator for featured exhibits. "He's one of the most popular, most interpreted."

The exhibit includes the study of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - the creator of the famous detective - and all his influences; a world exhibition from the 1800s in Baker Street Station with all the latest scientific breakthroughs; a walk-through of Sherlock's home at 221B Baker Street, one of the most accurate recreations from the books; and a crime scene in Richmond, London, that lays out a murder mystery that Sherlock needs help solving.

After working through the interactive tasks and contraptions the detective has created to help visitors figure out the mystery themselves, they arrive at the end for the big answer.

"Like in the stories, you don't get all the answers until Sherlock tells you," Falkowski said with a grin. "Because he always has some information you never get. We don't give you the easy answer."

Another fun aspect to the exhibit is the teamwork involved.

"We've seen family groups working together to solve the case and having a grand old time," Falkowski said. "It's been a long time since I've seen an exhibit that's engaged groups of people together like this one has."

She mentioned one team, a grandfather and grandson, who carefully worked through and solved the entire mystery and then went to Powell's to buy all the books.