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opinion exhibits

OPINION: Even Sherlock Holmes might struggle to find this exhibition interesting


IU has housed many exhibits over the years. Yet very few people on campus are talking about the new Sherlock Holmes exhibit. Is it due to the lack of interest in the exhibit itself?  

The “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects” exhibition will remain open until Dec. 16 in the Lily Library. The collector, Glen S. Miranker, created the exhibit to display her Sherlock Holmes collection. The room contains artifacts, bibliographic rarities, books and artwork. Each section of the exhibition focuses on a different book or section of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's career as the writer of the Sherlock Holmes series.

As you enter the building, the room's silence overtakes you, and the general ambiance fits into the collection's tone. The 62-year-old library has an ominous feel that aligns perfectly with the mood of the Sherlock Holmes series.

The exhibit is self–paced and could take you fifteen minutes to forty-five minutes to walk through. As someone who has never read Sherlock Holmes, it was a little overwhelming to know where to begin. A devoted fan might gravitate towards one part of the display, but as an outsider, I didn’t have any inclinations. 

Overall, I felt torn about whether it was incredibly mundane or moderately interesting. The content is good for a deeper read, but it is extremely saturated.

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With around 16 cases or displays, there were nearly 20 lengthy paragraphs to read, making it easier to skim and move on. It was hard to remain interested long enough to learn anything cool. Although some artifacts were interesting, such as the artwork done for the release of books or movies, to me, it was just a lot of versions of his books and different eras of posters.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with an exhibit displayed here at IU. Part of my judgement of the Sherlock Holmes exhibition stems from the comparison to the displays previously housed here. “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects” simply does not hold up.

The buzz surrounding the exhibit reaches nowhere close to other events, such as the Glenn Close Costume exhibit housed in the Eskenazi Museum of Art last year. Students were excited to see the Cruella Deville costumes displayed, and I even had a class talk about it at some point.

What stood out to me about the Glenn Close exhibit was that I didn't have to be a costume designer to appreciate what was displayed in front of me. I didn't have to see every single Glenn Close movie or read every plaque written next to the costumes. I still got something out of the museum either way.

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In this Sherlock Holmes exhibit, I didn't feel like I could get much out of it. I felt lost for most of the time, and although I felt like the plaques were easy enough to understand, I gained nothing from them. There was no good or bad emotion; it was just unexciting.

Don't get me wrong, some things in this exhibit were interesting to learn about. For example, learning the series continued eight years after Doyle killed off Holmes. Nonetheless, it wasn't jaw-dropping or in any way thrilling.

I hoped to talk to others and get their impressions on the exhibit. However, there was nobody else there during the 45 minutes I viewed it. This solidified my beliefs: the student body simply isn't that interested in this exhibit. 

I think Miranker had an excellent vision for this exhibit, and I truly believe that an avid Sherlock Holmes fan would find this fascinating. However, it doesn't seem to be thriving on a campus that appears to be lacking interest. The exhibit has good aspects, but compared to the other exhibits IU has shown, it isn't all that thrilling.

Gentry Keener (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science. 

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