The Sherlock Holmes Museum in central London has been delighting fans of Arthur Conan Doyle since it opened in 1990. This controversial landmark at 221B Baker Street is protected by the government and maintained by the non-profit Sherlock Holmes International Society.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum is not actually located at 221B Baker Street, but instead between 237 and 241 on Baker Street. In fact, there never was a 221B Baker Street, despite the many pieces of fan mail Mr. Holmes receives at this fictitious address. Prior to 2002, this mail was delivered to the company inhabiting the closest possible address, namely Abbey National Bank. Once the bank moved its headquarters elsewhere, an appeal by the Sherlock Holmes Museum deemed it the most appropriate place to deliver the post. The city of Westminster, however, has granted the museum the right to bear the number 221B as homage to the great literary hero it depicts.
One of the people most opposed to the museum was Arthur Conan Doyle’s daughter, Dame Jean Conan Doyle. She voiced her discomfort that such a museum, including the street number and an official commemorative plaque, mislead people to believing that Mr. Holmes and his beloved companions indeed existed. Furthermore, she rejected the museum’s request to donate some of her father’s belongings to the museum.
Another popular museum dedicated to Doyle’s sleuth is located in Meiringen, Switzerland. This Swiss town is home to Reichenbach Falls, an important landmark used by Arthur Conan Doyle in his story of Sherlock Holmes. The Sherlock Holmes Museum in Meiringen, which opened in 1991 on the 100th anniversary of Holmes’ death, offers a bronze statue, a handful of artifacts, and an authentic recreation of Holmes’ parlor.
Curators have paid great attention to detail in recreating Holmes’ and Watson’s fictional world within their museum. The parlor is located at the top of a staircase of 17 stairs. Its deep burgundy walls of the parlor contain Sherlock’s armchair, a deerstalker cap, a violin, and Persian slippers. Mrs. Hudson’s room is appropriately at the front of the Victorian house, and Doctor Watson’s second floor bedroom contains a copy of his diary.
Top image: doug.neiner (flickr)