On 4th December at 7pm, people from around the world will be able to join the hunt for a missing exhibit in what has been described as a “unique, interactive puzzle challenge”.

The session, which was developed in partnership with escape room specialist Agent November and will be led by wildlife presenter and explorer Steve Backshall, is the latest example of museums reimagining their offer for new, much larger digital audiences in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hourlong event, Mystery at the Museum, is designed to raise funds for the Museum of Natural History’s HOPE for the Future project. Access to the event will be free of charge but participants will be offered the chance to donate and support its work during the session.

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Oxford University Museum of Natural History © Prabhu

The HOPE for the Future initiative aims to preserve the Museum’s 200-year-old entomology collection, designated by Arts Council England as being of national and international importance. More than one million British insects are preserved in the extensive collection.

Backshall, who has been recognised by BAFTA for his TV work, labels the event a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see behind the scenes at the most atmospheric building in the nation”. The online audience, he explains, will guide him “around the Museum by night, solving puzzles and challenges, using their animal and dinosaur knowledge to help”.

The Museum has placed no limit on the number of participants who can access the session, with raising the maximum amount for HOPE for the Future the priority.

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