Murder, maggots and a museum

Surely only one of these three should feature in a date? And it had better be a pretty awesome maggot too.

However, Luisa and I have just spent a very pleasant evening where all three of these components were present.

The Natural History Museum’s Crime Scene Live event was just awesome: just the right amounts of education information, fun and humour – even the blowfly maggot and pupae activity. Most fun I have had in a paper suit, shoe protectors and a dust mask I have had in ages (yes they do make you dress up like you are an extra on Silent Witness).

Thanks so much to Mum and Dad for getting this as a present for Luisa, and to Maria for looking after Luke as this was definitely not an event for little ones. They say 16+ on the site and that is probably about right.

So we started out at reception get togged up in our CSI gear. Yes they really did make us wear the suits and masks…



and the very fetching shoe covers.


I don’t know what other visitors to the museum would have though about seeing 150 people dresses in our SOCO suits, but we were in a different area of the building so fortunately a mass panic was avoided.

Our briefing came from a detective from the MET Police and outline the scenario we were going to work on. Basically a security guard had been killed and a gemstone had gone missing. It was all delivered in the usual impersonal police speak, so came across as pretty realistic. So we were formed into three groups and off we went to our first stop: finger print and DNA collection.

After a quick briefing on the various different fingerprint patterns: loops, whorls and arches we got to work swabbing and dusting the suspected murder weapon.

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It was great fun.



We progressed on to an exercise that required us to date the body. Or rather the time that Blow Flies had laid their eggs on the body as we soon found out. So Luisa and I went hunting around in a large box, containing a soil sample, looking for Blow Fly maggots (which we had to boil and then examine under the microscope) and Blow Fly pupae (which we had to see if it floated or sank).


Then we had to examine a plant fragment which had been taken from the suspect’s shoe. Which we could then hopefully link to the crime scene. Again we had an interesting briefing for the task and fun trying to work out which of the many possible plants this could be.


Finally we watched the forensic experts who had been training us stand up in a show trial where prosecution and defense barristers tested the evidence.

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Everyone involved from the police and forensic teams to the NHM experts (they are called on frequently by the police to assist in their specialist fields) and the barristers where the real deal and do what they were showing us every day of the week. It was a fascinating evening and great fun. We highly recommend it.

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