MURDER at the Met!!

Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Cranach in the Metropolitan Museum

Well…. sort of.  If the title of this post sounds a bit ridiculous and murder mystery-y, it is. Game-makers Watson Adventures have created patron-participation scavenger hunts for over 27 museums, including “Murder at the Met,” which encourages participants to solve the case of a slaughtered curator and a forged da Vinci painting by finding clues and decoding cyphers hidden through the Met’s expansive galleries.

From the SF Chronicle:

Founder Bret Watson said the company grew from his love of art, history and writing and a fascination for finding funny and bizarre details in works of art – like a figure of a saint in a stained-glass window in the museum’s medieval gallery who’s a dead ringer for Mick Jagger and whose name is St. Roch (pronounced like the stone). The scavenger hunt question for that work is: “Which stained-glass pane looks like he ‘Can’t get no satisfaction?’

Now, I’m all for patron participation. Most museums would do well to create more opportunities for their visitors to interact with the work. And I enjoyed participating in the NYPL’s Find the Future. But I’m slightly put-off by the Museum Murder Mystery way of visiting The Met. When do you get to commune with the art? Can you REALLY appreciate a beautiful stained-glass window when you’re using it as a means to win a game? Maybe I’m just overly competitive. But when I was at Find the Future, I had to make the conscious choice to STOP playing so that I could enjoy the exhibition and explore the building.

The hunts are a way of getting people to “discover stuff they wouldn’t normally see because they fall into habits and tend to go toward the biggest hits,” said Watson, a former magazine writer and editor who creates 80 percent of the mystery hunts himself.

OK. I just need to get over it. Anything that provides an in-road to art and culture is a good thing, right?! And it is wonderful to find a new room at The Met that you’ve never seen before– like finding a hidden chamber in one’s apartment filled with beautiful art.

But seriously, should people pay $42.50 to play a fake murder mystery surrounded by some of the world’s best art and artifacts? mmmm. I just feel weird about this. Would YOU play “Murder at the Met” or at any other museum? What is the perceived value?

Perhaps you’d rather play Naked at the Met


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