Dallas Museum of Art Delights Would-Be Sleuths With a Whodunnit Evening

The suspect lineup may seem familiar at the DMA's murder mystery: They're all painting subjects come to life.
The suspect lineup may seem familiar at the DMA's murder mystery: They're all painting subjects come to life.
Karen Gavis
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The Dallas Art Museum’s annual murder mystery, which took place this last Friday, was a sellout attended by  hundreds of sleuths who were anything but clueless.

Among those armed with helpful hints — on whodunnit with what weapon and in which room of the museum — were Sara Kazzi, 30, from McKinney and her friend Erica Angel, 35, from Richardson. The two art fans had visited the museum in the past, but said it was their first time at the DMA’s faux crime scene.

“It’s something different,” Angel says. “I think a lot of people our age are like, you know, going out drinking or let’s go to the lake. I want to do something in the evening that’s not just, like, let’s go to bars.”

While seated at the museum’s outdoor patio, Kazzi, a former intern at the Crow Museum of Asian Art, says she was keeping an open mind about who the culprit was that killed Semiramis.

Suspects included an oddball Girl With Parakeet, well-to-do businessman Woodbury Langdon, the prideful Woman Before A Mirror and her meek friend Lise Sewing. The latter two had been better friends until Benzaiten, also a suspect, arrived at the museum. There was also Zeus, rumored to have made advances toward Semiramis. And lastly, Erminia, a princess who yearned for the spotlight.

According to the clue sheet, every night the museum bursts to life and the artwork gathered in a gallery to celebrate Erminia’s move to a new exhibit space when ”halfway through the gathering Semiramis stormed out with Benzaiten trailing behind.” Later, Zeus found Semiramis’ dead body.

To solve the mystery, suspects were “brought back to life” and stood before their artwork on Friday night to answer the crowd’s prying questions.

“I did not see the body,” said Woodbury Langdon. “I believe Zeus saw it. If I were a wealthy man, which I am, I would put my money on Zeus. I would talk to him. He’s not trustworthy.”

When asked if Langdon had been having an affair with Semiramis, he retorted, "How dare you.”

“I just tried to get out of there as soon as I could,” said the Girl With Parakeet. “There was so much blood. There was blood everywhere.”

Girl With Parakeet also said it looked as if Semiramis' body had been hacked to pieces. Zeus, on the other hand, was telling interrogators that he saw stab wounds.

“Why would I need to stab somebody if I control thunder and lightning at will,” he said, adding that he had no motive for petty murder and harbored no ill will.

Halley Harrell, a 27-year-old from Arlington, saw an outline of a body in the Hindu Gallery, she says, but was undecided on the killer’s identity. She came to the museum with her family and says that her hobby is listening to crime podcasts.

“I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes,” she says. “So it’s fun coming here with my own little crime to play detective.”

The detectives had until 9:30 p.m. to solve the murder, and those who had the details correctly got their name in a prize drawing. In the end, the suspects all paraded before the crowd into a lineup where Woman Before A Mirror finally came clean, saying that she picked up a dagger after Semiramis stormed off.

“She didn’t even hear me coming,” she said dramatically. “So I did it.”

The casting for the sold-out event on Friday night was coordinated by Lydia Mackay. Because of the event’s popularity, DMA spokesperson Jill Bernstein says that another whodunnit is slated for Oct. 11.

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