Minnesota History Center: Sherlock Holmes Exhibition
Exhibit Runs October 20, 2022 thru April 2, 2023
Travel Date: MN History Center
Continuing our Travel Dates to sites in our backyard, my daughter and I visited the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN.
As lovers of literature and good mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes special exhibition was our key objective.
Sherlock Holmes Exhibition: Minnesota Roots!
Fun Fact: the Sherlock Holmes interactive exhibit is very “Minnesotan!”
Over 60,000 pieces of Holmes history are included in a vast University of Minnesota collection – the world’s largest collection of Sherlock Holmes items! Items range from original manuscripts to rare Sherlockian memorabilia. Many are featured in this exhibit.
I was also excited to learn that this international exhibit was designed and developed in St. Paul, Minnesota! Over the past decade, the exhibit has traveled all over the world – and despite its local roots, it has never been on view in Minnesota – until now!
Join me in this blog as I share my Sherlock Holmes Exhibition experience with you! The Minnesota History Center is a significant site in itself, so I started with its highlights. Then I moved to the special exhibit as it was laid out to the visitor. Enjoy my photos and insights – and hopefully get to personally experience it for yourself!
Exhibition: 20 October 2022 – 02 April 2023
Minnesota History Center
Minnesota History Center
The Minnesota History Center is an interactive museum and library – to be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. The headquarters of the Minnesota Historical Society, it includes both permanent and changing exhibits. Near downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, it is considered one of Minnesota’s finest public buildings.
Downtown St. Paul: View to the East
Constructed of Minnesota granite and limestone with marble accents, the History Center provides grand vistas of the State Capitol, Cathedral of Saint Paul and the downtown Saint Paul skyline.
Also enjoy my blog on our Travel Dates to sites in downtown St. Paul: Landmark Center & Rice Park, Raspberry Island, and Ramsey Co Govt Center.
Minnesota State Capitol: View to the North
Grand views from 3+ story high windows include the grand Minnesota State Capitol.
Also enjoy my blogs on our Travel Dates to the Minnesota State Capitol and the Capitol Quadriga at Night.
Cathedral of St. Paul: View to the South
The spacious outdoor patio provides views of Cathedral Hill and downtown St. Paul.
Also enjoy my blog of our Travel Date to the Cathedral of St. Paul.
More than a Museum
The Minnesota History Center hosts concerts, lectures, family days and other special event throughout the year. It is a research destination for schoolchildren, family historians and academics. Its distinctive architecture adds a unique ambiance for events from 50-1,500 guests.
Greetings from Minnesota
Besides special events, its regular interactive exhibits include Minnesota’s Greatest Generation; Our Home: Native MN; Then Now Wow – and Weather Permitting with its all-time favorite Tornado!
Reminiscent of my years growing up on a Minnesota farm is the life-size Windmill! Before electricity reached rural farms in the 1930s and 40s, farmers relied on the wind to pump water for livestock. Windmills, once as common as barns and silos, are today relics of another era.
A replica of a “Jenny” airplane floats majestically above the main entry. Left uncovered to show its intricate wood and wire construction, it was once covered with cotton fabric. 95% of US and Canadian WWI pilots trained in Jennies and various sub-models.
Sherlock Holmes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle: the Author
The first of several galleries of the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition gets us inside the head of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It introduces us to the renowned doctor-turned-writer. We get a tiny glimpse into what may have empowered him to create such an impactful character. Someone who utilizes the science, history and logical thinking in a way that no other author really had at that time.
Doyle: the Man
An audio and visual history lesson is provided for us to get to know the mastermind behind the iconic detective. Photos and recorded interviews with Doyle himself provided helpful insight into his ideas and vision – and put a real person to the famous name.
The Holmes Canon
The Sherlock Holmes canon includes 4 novels and 56 short stories authored by Doyle. The exhibit displays original manuscripts and books, many of which are from the University of Minnesota collection.
I enjoyed the artwork as well. This is an original illustration for The Hound of the Baskervilles by Frederic Dorr Steele (1939)
Sherlock Holmes: the Exhibit
Victorian Train Station
Evoking the shadowy streets of Victorian-era London, we move into a dimly lit room, lined with cobblestone and brick. In this underground train station, we hear the sounds of a train approaching – and then departing.
Learning to Sleuth
While we wait… we explore the shops and begin our training in the art of observation, investigation – and sleuthing, Sherlock Holmes-style.
The Art of Observation
The telegraph…cosmetic ingredients…optics and lenses… are all added to our educational experience as we learn the art of observation.
Waiting for the Train…
This waiting room transitions us from the station to Baker Street apartment to the Crime Scene.
Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street
Baker’s Street NW.1
From the train station, the mood is set as we approach the Baker’s Street address of Sherlock Holmes in London.
Baker Street: Living Room
We first get a glimpse of Sherlock’s apartment with his fireside living room space. It claims to be close to description in his books. It also closely resembles the staging of the Sherlock Holmes House I recall during a visit to this museum on Baker Street, London, England.
Baker Street: Holmes in his Study
Details provided in the Sherlock Homes stories were used by the set designers to provide an authentic home-scene. It sets the “Sherlock Holmes – mood” for us to experience as we put our detective skills to use.
Baker Street: Library
Just beyond Sherlock’s library, the white walls of the Crime Scene can be seen.
Sleuthing the Case: Crime Scene
Breaking the Code
We enter the Scene of the Crime. We use the tools recorded in our Notebook, provided when we entered. Throughout the exhibit, we encounter icons linking our notebook to important experiments. We mark the notebook accordingly with stamps, rubbings and other markings. Using this data, we are able to break a code – and reveal the truth of the mystery that awaits us!
The Crime Scene: View 1
The Crime Scene sits in the center of the room. Our Notebook includes an Official Metropolitan Police Report. It includes Observation of Evidence and the Officer’s Conclusions. We are challenged: Agree? Or not?
The Crime Scene: View 2
Major clues are a blood spatter seen on the wall just above the fireplace and the broken bust of Napoleon Bonaparte lying on the floor.
The Crime Scene: View 3
Ropes with “Crime Scene” signs block entry to the Crime Scene.
Sleuthing the Case: Solving the Crime
Conservatory: Botany Poison?
At the Conservatory, we used our Seed Pod rubbing to see if it matches any of the poisonous plants kept here by the suspect.
Conservatory: My Fav!
Being a lover of quaint botanical gardens, I was especially attracted to this scene – aside of the sleuthing opportunity!
We used our drawings of the Bullet’s Trajectory to test our findings at the Penny Arcade. We compared them with the conclusions of the police inspector.
We used our embossing of the Marks in the Sand to compare with our findings regarding conclusions re: bodies being dragged to the River Thames.
We compared our Blood Splatter to that found at the Crime Scene. Ballistics were tested in the Slaughterhouse.
Overall, it was a fun experience. We could take our sleuthing as seriously – or as casually – as we wanted! The exhibit gave us the tools to make the most of it. I left with a new appreciation for Sherlock Holmes and his detective skills!
Sherlock Holmes: The Legacy
The final gallery of the exhibit explores the legacy of Sherlock Holmes as it extends within – and beyond – the world of fiction. Sherlock-themed nick-knacks, board games, illustrations, and toys fill the space.
British and American influences are portrayed with posters and film clips. His presence in pop culture throughout the decades highlights Sherlock Holmes as one of the history’s most beloved and enduring characters.
His modern relevance is seen as he uses tools that really are those that help us understand the world around us today. He continues to help us evaluate what is true, and what is opinion – a skill that is essential.
Dear Reader. . . thanks for allowing me to share this post with you. If you enjoyed it, I’m encouraged by your responses with a “like” and “comment.” It encourages me to keep posting! Thanks! ~Cher B
Minnesota History Center
Our recommended age for a visitor to fully appreciate the exhibition is middle school through adult. Good reading and comprehension skills are necessary.
- Admission fee is reasonable; several discounts apply and Members are FREE. Special exhibits are included with general admission.
- Address: 345 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102; easy access off of 35E and 94
- Parking: Pay lot next to History Center is the best option. Check website for other transportation options. Member discounts for parking.
- Website: mnhs.org
- All photos by Cher B or Amy B at the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition. 23 October 2022. Photography (non-flash) was encouraged.
- Harder, Macy. “Holmes comes home.” Star Tribune. 26 October 2022
- Minnesota Historical Society website. mnhs.org. 26 October 2022
- “Sherlock Holmes: the Exhibition.” Posters, placards, and MNHS attendants throughout the exhibit, oral and written information. 23 October 2022
- “Sherlock Holmes: the Exhibition. Test your powers of observation” MNHS Notebook given upon admission to exhibit. 23 October 2022