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Mutant creatures suspected in museum 'murder'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Mutant creatures suspected in museum 'murder'

A mutant rabbit from a mad scientist's lab is among hundreds of deadly animals and plants suspected of playing a role in a murder at Auckland Museum.

This weekend the doors open on the museum's latest exhibition The Poisoners - a whodunit that asks visitors to figure out who killed Professor Felix Splicer and which poisonous plant or deadly animal they used to do it.

To solve the crime museum visitors are able to search for clues in four rooms belonging to the four key suspects mad scientist Dr Helix Splicer, Toxica Fay Tully, Anastasia "Nastie" Van Abs, and Alain "Sharky" Coasteau.

"First and foremost this exhibition is a whole lot of fun," says exhibition developer Janneen Love. "We've loved creating it, choosing details for the rooms and imagining what the suspect characters' would have around them. Nastie is a suspected poacher, for example, so our display team has created an incredible hut complete with all the animals and insects she is trying to hustle out of the country to rich buyers."

"It's also a really great way to explore our natural history collections - most of the 200 collection items in The Poisoners haven't been on display before and now they get to be part of a murder mystery. The whole thing is really interactive, so visitors are examining the objects and reading the labels to hunt for clues."

"The original concept for the exhibition came from Te Papa and they staged their version of The Poisoners in 2007 but we've made it own with all our own objects and new designs."

The collection specimens on display range from a giant squid to a wildebeest to an underground plant known as pua o te reinga or the Flower of Hades, which attaches to the roots of native trees and shrubs and draws out all the nutrients, leaving behind distorted roots.

"I think our audiences will be surprised to find out what's really deadly and what's not - it's not always the obvious plants or animals that deliver the toxic punch and some of the most feared creatures actually pose very little threat."

Apart from the satisfaction of figuring it out, anyone that solves The Poisoners crime also gets a chance to win one of the iPods that the museum has put up for grabs each month.

The exhibition is open daily from 10am-5pm throughout the summer and at the end of February all the clues will change so visitors can return and solve the crime all over again.

Auckland Museum is also running a new event series in January called Summer Nights at the Museum.

"The night begins with dangerous weaponry and combat displays outside in the Domain so people can enjoy a picnic with their friends or family and then take a special after-hours tour through the museum," says event developer Jo Brookbanks.

"Inside we'll explore all the deadly and dangerous objects in our collections, dangerous characters will come to life, we'll have storytelling and of course people can carry out their own investigations inside The Poisoners."

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