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What Is the Sherlock Holmes Museum?

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is a charming Victorian abode nestled on London's famed Baker Street, dedicated to the legendary detective. It's a treasure trove of memorabilia, bringing to life Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. Visitors step back in time, exploring Holmes' study, artifacts, and wax figures. Intrigued? Discover how the museum captures the essence of Holmes' adventures within its walls.
C. K. Lanz
C. K. Lanz

The Sherlock Holmes Museum, located in London, England, is dedicated to the historical era and life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion, Doctor John H. Watson. In the Sherlock Holmes stories, the detective and Dr. Watson live at 221b Baker Street in London as tenants of Mrs. Hudson from 1881 to 1904. Founded in 1990, the museum is housed in a Georgian townhouse that is actually located between 237 and 241 Baker Street at number 239 but uses the 221b Baker Street address with the permission of the City of Westminster. The collection includes period furniture, wax figures, and Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.

The house that houses the Sherlock Holmes Museum is similar to Holmes’ residence as described in the stories and was a Victorian boardinghouse. The museum attempts to faithfully recreate the interior of the detective’s flat as described by Conan Doyle, including the first-floor study overlooking Baker Street decorated with period furniture and objects. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the setting of the stories and experience what the detective’s life in his home may have been like.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is dedicated to the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum is dedicated to the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

Tours of the museum are often conducted by staff in character, usually posing as Dr. Watson or the detective himself. On display are period artifacts similar to those described by Conan Doyle in the stories, including the detective’s violin, library, and scientific instruments. Visitors can also climb the famous 17 steps from the street to the first floor. Across the street from the museum is a gift shop featuring Sherlockiana as well as props from the Granada TV Sherlock Holmes series that aired between 1984 and 1994 starring Jeremy Brett as the detective.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum can be found in London.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum can be found in London.

Some Conan Doyle descendants have publicly criticized the opening of the Sherlock Holmes Museum. As the detective is a fictional character, a few family members object to the museum because it suggests that Holmes really existed. There are few Conan Doyle possessions in the museum itself because the family had sold most at auction. Visitors to the Sherlock Holmes Museum should note that it is a recreation of a fictional setting and not the fictional detective’s actual home.

Some descendants of Arthur Conan Doyle have criticized the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Some descendants of Arthur Conan Doyle have criticized the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

When Conan Doyle created his detective, Baker Street addresses did not go as high as 221, but the street numbers were re-allocated in the 1930s. At that time, the famous address was assigned to the Abbey National building. As a result, the building began receiving voluminous correspondence for Sherlock Holmes and had to appoint a permanent employee to read and respond to all the letters.

In 1990, the 221b Baker Street address was assigned to the Sherlock Holmes Museum even though the house is actually located between 237 and 241 Baker Street at number 239. A blue plaque that included the address was unveiled when the museum opened. Abbey National objected to the museum being assigned 221b because the house was out of sequence with the other numbers on the street and because Abbey National had been answering Sherlock Holmes’ mail since the 1930s. Abbey House closed in 2005, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum’s exclusive right to receive and answer the detective’s mail was recognized.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Sherlock Holmes Museum located, and is it an official historical site?

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is situated at 221b Baker Street, London, which is famously known as the fictional detective's residence. Despite its literary connection, the museum is not officially recognized as a historical site. However, due to its cultural significance and the immense popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character, the museum has been granted special permission by the City of Westminster to bear the address 221b.

What can visitors expect to see at the Sherlock Holmes Museum?

Visitors to the Sherlock Holmes Museum can immerse themselves in the Victorian era ambiance that Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson would have lived in. The museum features a detailed recreation of Holmes' study, complete with period furniture, his famous pipe, magnifying glass, and violin. Additionally, wax figures and exhibits depict scenes from the detective's adventures, providing a tangible connection to the stories that have captivated readers for generations.

How accurate are the museum's displays to the original Sherlock Holmes stories?

The museum's displays are a careful blend of historical accuracy and creative interpretation, designed to evoke the spirit of the Sherlock Holmes stories. While some items, like the study and personal effects, are closely modeled on descriptions in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works, other aspects are inspired by the broader Holmes canon, including adaptations. The museum aims to create an authentic experience that honors the essence of the beloved detective.

Is the Sherlock Holmes Museum suitable for children, and are there any interactive elements?

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is a family-friendly attraction that can be enjoyed by children, especially those with an interest in mystery and history. While the museum is more of a static exhibit without many interactive elements, the intricate details and lifelike scenes can spark the imagination of young visitors, making it an educational and entertaining experience for budding detectives.

Are there any special events or temporary exhibitions at the Sherlock Holmes Museum?

The Sherlock Holmes Museum primarily focuses on the permanent exhibition of Holmes' living quarters and artifacts. However, it occasionally hosts special events or temporary exhibitions that delve deeper into specific aspects of the Holmes stories, Victorian London, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's life and work. Visitors are encouraged to check the museum's official website or contact the museum directly for the latest information on upcoming events.

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    • The Sherlock Holmes Museum is dedicated to the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
      By: emiliano85
      The Sherlock Holmes Museum is dedicated to the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
    • The Sherlock Holmes Museum can be found in London.
      By: Helen Hotson
      The Sherlock Holmes Museum can be found in London.
    • Some descendants of Arthur Conan Doyle have criticized the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
      Some descendants of Arthur Conan Doyle have criticized the Sherlock Holmes Museum.