The Mathers Museum of World Cultures diverged from the classic crafting event and combined a variety of activities into a movie, craft and interactive mystery event for local families.
“Mystery at the Museum,” organized by Mathers volunteer and IU senior Katie Griffin, began with director Jason Baird Jackson giving what he called his typical pre-event speech. He introduced the episode of “Scooby-Doo” the group would watch after making their own mystery notebooks and a new artifact from the museum.
“Very relevant for today is our exhibit, ‘200 Years of Living and Thriving in the Hoosier State,’” Jackson said. “The Hoosier state — that’s where we are — that’s where many of us are from. The exhibit is already open, but soon we’re going to add a new artifact, and we’re using today as an opportunity to celebrate.”
The new artifact is an antique butter churn with roots in Brookston, Indiana. The churn, made in 1922, was slated to go into the exhibit during the course of the day, Jackson said.
The episode began, and children watched Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang onscreen all the while unaware that Griffin was sneaking around by the stage. The lights went out, Griffin swiped the butter churn, and then the episode paused.
“Who better to call in than the gang from ‘Scooby-Doo’?” Griffin said. “I was talking to one of my friends, and we’re all cosplayers. We all dress up as these characters, and we were thinking, ‘Scooby-Doo’ has so many episodes.”
Junior Kristen Pimley played the part of Daphne, sophomore Erin Garman played Velma, and sophomore Alexa Lively portrayed Scooby-Doo. The cast of characters waited in a room downstairs for their cue from Jackson upon his “discovery” of the missing artifact.
“The butter churn — our new artifact — is gone,” Jackson said. “What are we going to do? This is not good. We’ve never had a theft at the Mathers Museum before.”
Pimley, Garman and Lively each selected a group of children and families to take with them around the museum’s many exhibits .
Museum facilities manager Kelly Wherley proposed that the ghost of the butter churn’s creator was probably behind the theft.
At one point, Daphne went missing, and her group was left to join the others to find her. Once they figured out that she was trapped in a supply closet, they found with her the “ghost” of the inventor. Jackson unmasked the supposed ghost and revealed his true identity as Kelly Wherley.
“I was going to be rich,” Wherley said. “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.”
The staying power of “Scooby-Doo” across the age spectrum was part of the motivation to put on this particular style of event, Griffins said. Parents and children alike laughed throughout the afternoon event as they followed the characters through a variety of exhibits to find clues and solve the mystery.
“They just opened a new generation of ‘Scooby-Doo,’ and it started in 1965,” Griffin said. “It’s something that has almost been universal from generation to generation and I was like, ‘Why don’t play with that? Why not bring in people from each generation?’”
After the mystery was solved and the thief unmasked, the children and families were invited back to watch the remainder of the episode with cookies.
“Today’s a day for relaxation and nostalgia,” Jackson said. “I grew up with Scooby-Doo, and you did too, so we’re here to have a good time.”
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