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MYSTERY IN THE MUSEUM At Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art Is An Original Smash Hit

MYSTERY IN THE MUSEUM At Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art Is An Original Smash Hit

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) has found success with its popular and repeatedly sold out event Mystery in the Museum.

Mystery in the Museum, conceived by Julie Ganas, SMoCA's curator of programming, was inspired by the growing trend of escape rooms. Ganas saw these events as a great way to bring a new, immersive program to the Museum with an educational twist.

"I thought it would be a unique way to create a captive audience and invite new communities into the Museum. Over the years, it has become a collaborative process with my colleagues who help with all stages of planning and execution," said Ganas.

Since its inception in 2018, the Museum has created five different mysteries, not including four additional encore events and one private engagement. Every Mystery in the Museum has sold out bringing more than 500 people into the Museum for these unique events.

"We are truly trying to make the Museum and the exhibitions more accessible to people. We want to reach out to various demographics and create an environment that is accessible, as well as design an event that is fun, light-hearted and art centric," said Carrie Tovar, registrar at SMoCA, who also assists in creating the storylines for Mystery events.

"Mystery in the Museum is an important event because it invites a diverse audience to the Museum for an art experience driven by a narrative. Participants become very involved with the story and it engages critical thinking centered on art," said Ganas.

Each of the mysteries is unique to the series of exhibitions the Museum has at the time. Mystery in the Museum takes a step beyond the typical escape room or mystery dinner theatre by inviting participants to look closer at the artworks on display and read object labels to find clues and decipher codes. Additionally, every season of exhibitions offer a unique narrative and theme that participants can immerse themselves in and become an essential part of the mystery. During the 2017-18 exhibition "Wild Thing: Adventures with the Permanent Collection" participants became bird watchers and had to identify the birds in several artworks that would lead to the next clue. Oftentimes the Museum receives cooperation from an artist to use their work in a "spot the difference" activity, where Museum staff alters an image of the artwork by removing or adding components.

"When we write the riddles and the story, we are trying to think of the best way for the participants to look at and pay attention to details in the art. It is a sneaky and fun way to have the audience engage with artworks that they might not otherwise come to the Museum to see," said Tovar.

Mystery in the Museum: The Curator's Conundrum

Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, 6 p.m.

Pair $30, Individual $20

Gather a group of your sharpest friends and join us for an evening filled with curious puzzles, brainteasers and riddles as another mystery unfolds in the Museum! Cash bar throughout the evening and light bites to follow.

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