Arts Opinion: Is Holmes museum too fandom-friendly?

The Museum of London is currently hosting the exhibit “Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die.” Here, the character of Sherlock Holmes is portrayed not simply as a literary figure, but as an icon at the center of a multifaceted fandom—and that’s a good thing. Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character of Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print in 1887 and remains an alluring character to this day. The character has been continually reimagined and reinvigorated over the decades, sparking ideas for numerous books, movies and television adaptations, including the hit BBC television series “Sherlock.” The character’s astounding logical reasoning skills intrigue many fans, as does his arrogant demeanor.

Although some people may argue that the new exhibit fails to adequately honor Sherlock Holmes’s literary beginnings, I believe that it is simply in keeping with modern times. It neglects to include the original manuscripts as its central feature, but instead incorporates a multitude of visual components including paintings, postcards, maps, photographs and archival films. I think the Museum of London chose wisely by intertwining various forms of media to give Internet Age museum-goers the opportunity to delve into the mysterious mind of Sherlock Holmes.

The exhibit also showcases rare illustrations by Sidney Paget, the man who created Sherlock Holmes’s original look which consists of a cape and deerstalker cap. Paget’s illustrations have heavily influenced contemporary interpretations of the detective. Early film, photography, paintings and original Victorian-era artifacts, aim to reconstruct many of the London locations mentioned in the famous series.

The museum’s visitors can also see the first lines of a Sherlock Holmes story and watch the evolution of the character through video montages that explore his layered personality as well as his complex critical thinking process. These various components allow Doyle fans and Tumblr bloggers alike to ruminate on the traits that have come to define such a celebrated character.

“Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die” will prove fascinating for fans of Sherlock Holmes movies, books and TV series alike. This moody, mysteriously cloaked character has stood the test of time, and I’m sure he will keep evolving as people continue to be fascinated by his unique personality and extraordinary mind.