WHODUNNIT? Everything you need to know about #CrimeSceneLive at The Natural History Museum @NHM_London

Like any set of tired parents, Dad Muddling Through and I relish the occasional grown up night out, free from the wants and needs of our gorgeous, but somewhat demanding daughters. One of our favourite occasional nights out these days is a curry and escape room – a fun night out which is less about getting mortal and hitting the clubs, but brings a giggle and a bit of action (pardon the pun) around our evening. I guess nights out look a little different these days, and it’s more about enjoying a change of scene, something different, and sharing different experiences together (which don’t always revolve around being Mum and Dad). 

Back in the Spring, we couldn’t believe our luck when we got to have a whole night away together and act a right pair of big kids, when we took part in the Dinosnores event at the Natural History Museum. You can read the full write up here. It was a gift from a family member and a totally unique experience – a once in a lifetime ‘night in the museum’. Until you’ve ever walked through the dinosaurs exhibition in your pyjamas, at two a.m. completely alone, you haven’t lived 😉

Natural History Museum exterior

Forever lovers of all things natural history, we couldn’t believe it when the events team at the Natural History Museum contacted me to thank me for the review, and invite us back for a slightly different event – Crime Scene Live.

So this past weekend we headed back up to our much loved NHM in South Kensington (this time sans sleeping bags and PJs) and had a date night to remember as we played the part of the police squad, discovering what went down at the Museum to leave two members of staff missing, precious artefacts stolen, and two bodies discovered…

The event doors opened at 6.30, meaning we had time to meet and grab a bite to eat before starting the evening – unlike the Dinosnores this event doesn’t include a meal (more time for solving crimes) but you do receive a complimentary drink from the bar. It’s worth noting the event requires a fair bit of walking around the museum so sensible shoes and trousers are recommended (you might have to get yourself in a full Tyvek suit!). I loved how some folk got right in the mood with Sherlock Holmes style Deerstalkers! Anything goes at these events!

Upon entry and ditching our jackets in the cloakroom (by Andy’s clock no less) we were provided a key info pack, containing a map, crib sheet to note down details about the 12 suspects, and the all important Police lanyard (handily also detailing the evening’s itinerary).

Split into teams investigating Blood, Maggots or Fingerprints (Maggots baby!) we were then debriefed by the first detective on how the evening would roll out. With time slots allocated for lectures and activities on Entomology and Anthropology, we were to fill the remaining time collecting evidence located around the museum to establish exactly what played out on the night of the crime.

With time to go through the initial information pack we learnt that two members of the Mineralogy team were missing, as well as the precious and possibly cursed Amethyst. One body had been found by the empty exhibit case and then another, bare remains of a skeleton, discovered later on in a shed at the museum.

At 7.20 we were welcomed en mass by the Chief Inspector and his team, who (in full theatrical role) gave us further back story and tasked us to go and solve the crime – to talk to each other and gain information from all avenues possible.

The bodyguard eat your heart out.

Before our first lecture slot at 19:45 we had time to scrutinise the evidence packs for each suspect and draw key information on their activities, whereabouts, motives and inter crossing relationships.  In fairness at this point we built a pretty good picture of who we thought was in the frame…it was a shame we lost focus on that as the night went on, but there was so much to see and learn it all got a bit intense! (I would make a truly rubbish detective).

Our first lecture with the Anthropology team based in the museum was a remarkable lesson in how skeletons are aged, sexed and how height is determined. Introduced by another highly comical member of the police team, we were lead along to the skeletal remains to extract the key info. (Don’t worry it was all plastic moulds).

It’s a real science and one that to the untrained eye was actually really difficult. We met an anthropologist from the museum who shared with us what her job involves, and luckily helped us out a little (a lot) on how we could identify our skeleton from the suspect list.

As we moved on from the lecture we made our way to various data collection points around the museum exhibits (which we obviously checked out en route – it’s the perfect time to see the museum away from the crowds!). Worth noting however that the exhibitions aren’t accessible during this event, unlike at Dinosnores, although in fairness there wasn’t really time for a full museum tour. There is still a huge amount of natural history exhibits on display through the corridors and galleries open as part of the event.

At the listening station and upstairs QR scanner data clues, we built more of a picture of the staff at the museum and how they might be involved, whilst of course chatting to other detectives who gave up what they had learnt in their blood / fingerprint teams. At the event you get to really do a third of the whole picture – something to bear in mind when you arrive if you have a particular interest.

Lesson number two in the lecture hall was probably the most gruesome of the night (although we did walk past the blood splatter team en route and that was probably up there!). Entomology – or the study of insect and their relationship to humans. In other words, how flies and maggots are used in criminology to establish key information about the time of death (amongst other things I’m sure).

As we were briefed on the life cycle of a fly (and treated to a hilarious fly life cycle contemporary dance by the detective) we established how we could date our corpse by identifying the species of fly under a microscope, dating the Pupa contents, and extrapolating on a graph to establish time of death. Sound complicated? Yes, it was. Despite the clear instructions I managed to mis-identify my fly, and pupal stage, and date of death. But hey, I did remember how to use the microscope?!

After being helped through the Entomology we contributed to a pHD project data set by racing maggots. Just for fun.

With a little time for more clues, the evening came to a dramatic end with the Police team at 22:05 revealing who did in fact ‘do it’. Of course it was played out in dramatic style with a pitch black museum, and torch lit display – a real grand finale for a pretty spectacular evening of entertainment.

So did we work out who the murderer was? Did we hell, but thank Goodness, we can leave all that to the experts, as we head back to our day job of a couple of parents, muddling through.



Disclosure: We were gifted the tickets to Crime Scene Live. All opinions are my own. 


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