CULTURE EDITOR MATTHEW BENTLEY traveled across London with the time constraint of a single free period to see what culture is available at any time during the school day
I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes. After only reading one of his books on my grandfather’s urgings, I failed to connect or enjoy Arthur Conan Doyle’s series. It was not until I saw Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes in 2008, that I began to like this character. My appreciation for Sherlock increased tenfold after I saw Benedict Cumberbatch bring the character to life. While I hold my breath for June 2013 and the season premiere of “Sherlock” Season 3, there is little I can do in order to get my fill of Sherlock. I cannot bring myself to watch more than the first ten minutes of the dreck that is Elementary.
I have too much work to actually read any of the books. So, instead, I have decided I will try and fit a visit to the Sherlock Holmes museum into the only unstructured time I have, a free period.
I have often driven or walked past the Sherlock Holmes Museum, located at the famous 221b Baker Street, the apparent home of Holmes.
I’m on a tube within six minutes and 48 seconds, but it takes me longer than I would like to admit to find my way out of the Baker Street station. Thirteen minutes into my journey, I am standing in a fairly long line of people in the cold. It is not the most pleasant of experiences. I am quickly informed that this is not the correct line, and that I have to wait in a line to buy a ticket through the bookshop and then I am allowed to queue for entry. I wait for seven minutes in order to get a ticket, and then I wait for 15 more minutes before I get in. Men stand outside in bobby uniforms taking pictures with people in Sherlock Holmes hats.
Finally, after 35 minutes, I get in. A tiny staircase causes large traffic jams of people waiting to get in or out. Every room is small and cramped, and filled to the brim with memorabilia. A fiddle, a magnifying glass and a hat adorn various small rooms. While it’s fun to see all the bits and pieces that Holmes would have used, the complete lack of signage to indicate what is going on is confusing. They have designed this exhibit to look exactly like a house, which it does, but it prevents the museum from informing the viewer like a museum should.
The freakish wax figures that dominate the top floor of the museum are odd. These figures act out famous scenes from Doyle’s works. A mounted Baskerville Hound, the theater box from A Scandal in Bohemia and a haunting figure of Moriarty fill the room, giving you even less space to maneuver. While these finally carry plaques of who they are, they are not filled with much.
Subtle references to his cases and books, ships on windowsills, guns on stools, and canes, all represent an intelligence that has curated this exhibit. For a Sherlock Holmes fan, I am fascinated to see his world brought to life. Then again, if you were not a fan going in, then it is a place to avoid. Overall, I spent 20 minutes in line and nine minutes actually walking through 221B Baker Street. It is a small museum, but not good enough to merit the line.
The family in front of me was made up of one Sherlock Holmes fan and two siblings with no interest in the detective. As I left, I saw the fan standing alone, only in the first room, as the siblings had already made their way through the entire museum. So, go if you like Sherlock, if you don’t, maybe you should avoid it and study for your test next period.