Museum 'whodunnit' series to continue

Otago Museum officials are planning to continue a dramatised ''whodunnit?'' series after the success of a recent event focusing on one of the world's most baffling maritime mysteries.

About 60 museum visitors sought to ''navigate the mystery'' of Mary Celeste, a cargo ship often also referred to as ''Marie Celeste'', at the evening event last month.

Two actors wearing period costume provided clues to help visitors get to the bottom of this real-life ''ghost ship'' mystery. The 31m-long ship set sail from New York, bound for Italy, in 1872 with a cargo of raw alcohol.

The vessel was later found floating, but abandoned, in the Atlantic on December 4, 1872.

Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, daughter and a crew of eight were never seen again.

The museum's director of visitor interaction and programmes, Helen Horner, said the visitors had ranged from students to the elderly.

There had been ''great audience participation'' at the evening, with ''plenty of questions and lots of discussion and laughter when trying to solve the mystery''.

Museum staff now planned to stage about three such mystery evening events each year, and it was hoped to hold the next one within a few months.

Such events often had ''wonderful outcomes'', opening up visitors' sense of curiosity and encouraging them to learn more about historical events, she said.

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