For my mother’s birthday last year, we decided to take her on a Murder Scavenger Hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art put together by the fantabulous people at Watson Adventures. I’d read something about it on Blogher and thought that murder and museums are two things my family enjoys and putting them together could only make them better. We missed our initial date in October because of gall bladder attacks and dog bites and strained Achilles tendons. And even though there were cut hands and bloody fingers and twingeing backs this time around, there was no way we were missing Sunday’s date because it is incredibly difficult to get 7 of us together for a day, if it’s not a major holiday.
The moderators handed out a clue sheet with twenty two different areas of the museum marked off where you had to find specific works of art and discover what was important about each piece. Usually, it was a sentence that was missing a word that you had to find; or the work was described vaguely and you had to find the artist. There were also suspects listed and you had to decipher a code to figure out the murderer and come up with a plausible motive for the killing.

There are some things you should keep in mind before taking on an adventure such as this:

  1. Know your teammates. Since we did this with family members, you’d think we’d know each other well enough to skip this step. You would be wrong.
  2. Know how competitive they are going to be in direct relation to the amount of competitiveness you are going to display. For example, having teammates who are ready to run from art work to art work getting an overall sense of what you need to succeed may not be the best fit with those that need to spend up to 1/2 hour pouring over one frigging piece of art to make sure that the wording of the answer was spot on for an answer that didn’t mean anything in the end anyway.
  3. Have a basic idea of how much time it will take you to make the rounds of the art exhibits so that you don’t freak out over the wasted 1/2 hour if you can make it up over the next several (18) rooms.
  4. Have the fall guy who has to keep pushing the straggler to move on – sorry dad, you married her.
  5. Decide ahead of time if it matters to you whether you win (duh!) or not; and whether causing an impossible to heal rift in the family structure is really worth the end game.

Looking back on it, we’d probably have been better off splitting into two teams – those who wanted to win and those who wanted to make sure everything was letter perfect in the answers. The only problem was there would have been 5 on one team and 2 on the other and one would have been miserable. We did make it to the end of the hunt with seconds to spare. We were given a little time to figure out our answers and write out our hypotheses. And we wound up with 23 points overall which put us in 4th place. We picked the right murderer and supported our motive well. We did miss on 2 or 3 of the answers about the paintings (including the one we nearly killed my mother over) but we were still speaking to one another at the end.

The problem is most of us got the killer competitive spirit from my father, while my mother usually just enjoys doing things with us (although there is a competitive streak in her too). But for this kind of activity, her need for perfection overrides the need to finish. If the answer isn’t exactly right, she cannot move on. I did think at one point brother number 3 was just going to leave us all there and find a bar somewhere where he could sit in a dark corner and mutter about family members who don’t know the meaning of the word race. We kept telling him it was my mother’s present and it mattered more that she had a good time.

And I really think she did have a good time. She’s all set to do one at the Museum of Natural History next. Before that, I think I have to do one with the other members of the team who want to win at all costs. Get it out of our systems so that next time, we can meander and not have an overwhelming urge to stand in the middle of one of the premier museums in the world screaming at the top of our lungs that this is a contest, dammit, and there’s no way in hell that we’re going to win if we don’t even finish the damn thing! Cause I would never feel that way. Ever.

5 Responses to “SUNDAY IN THE MUSEUM”

  1. amanda Says:

    Never, We never feel that way…. You left out the part about the missing body parts, the real reason why brother #3 was finding a bar and muttering

  2. Ms. Huis Herself Says:

    Oh, that sounds FUN!!!! My family would love it! We’ll have to see if there’s one around the Mpls/St.Paul area. Cool!

  3. painted maypole Says:

    my hubby would love that sort of thing!

  4. noble pig Says:

    Your family is way too fun!

  5. Linda G. Says:

    What a great family adventure!

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