How to create a (murder?) mystery diorama
November 14, 2018 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I want to create a diorama that portrays a mystery scene that can be solved with some intro information given and by examining the evidence provided in the diorama.

It doesn't have to be a murder mystery, though that's all I can think of right now. I would like to find a place that has different scenarios and solutions ready to go, with (ideally!) a list of what you need to include in the scene so that people can figure it out. I'm having trouble looking this up because all the Nutshell dioramas keep coming up. Ideas?

(This will be for a cookie exchange party, so the diorama will be edible and the scenario possibly tweaked to include cookie or holiday details. That's neither here nor there, but sort of fun.)
posted by LKWorking to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
[One deleted - OP mentions they're looking for info/ideas other than the Nutshell dioramas by Frances Glessner Lee.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:48 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know of something exactly like what you want, but I think those murder mystery themed word puzzles/riddles would be a good place to start. Remember those? You'd find them in sets of Mind Trap and that sort of thing. You would need to represent all of the clues given in the riddle in the diorama and I am sure there are many that would work.

Something like:

Two women ate dinner together and both ordered iced tea to drink. One woman drank her tea very quickly and had five glasses over dinner. The other woman drank slowly and finished only a single glass.

The woman that drank one glass of iced tea died while the other survived. All of the drinks were poisoned. Why did she survive?

Answer: the poison was in the ice cubes. Since the first woman drank her iced tea quickly the ice did not have time to melt and release the poison.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

CSI did a continuing storyline about a serial killer who left dioramas at the scenes called the Miniature Killer several years ago (season 7). Maybe you could get ideas from watching those?
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2018

There are jigsaw puzzles that include a story in a book and you have to uncover the clues in the completed puzzle. Perhaps that could be a source of inspiration as well.
posted by cali59 at 12:18 PM on November 14, 2018

Maybe a Clue board game diorama?
Show all the weapons but one.
Show all the people but one.
Have it in the room the murder was committed, the body on the floor.
Once they figure out who is missing and which weapon is missing, that's the solution!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:22 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Some of the scenarios in Shylock Fox might fit the bill. I suppose some require a bit of context, but I think you could probably do something that covers your bases.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:19 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you can somehow get your hands on Clue Armchair Detective, that is exactly the kind of thing you're looking for.
posted by inkyz at 1:54 PM on November 14, 2018

Dioramas are a lot like Doll Houses. A little theatre stage with characters that interact.

Decide on a stage concept: Creepy Old Victorian house is the reliable standard that you can't go wrong with, also: forest with cabin in woods, old castle, monastery ruins, water treatment plant, suburban ranch house, airport lounge, military outpost, etc. Doesn't have to be perfect.

Introduce a cast of small characters of various shapes and temperments. Then move them around saying things, and have them disagree about something. This is what playwrights often do, develop the concept from the interaction of characters. More fun for this part if you can invite a decent little kid or a friend who gets the concept to help (nice friends who don't get the concept interfere, they stay in the audience.)

If the characters are edible, then eat them when you are done, and start over if you feel like it.

Make extra characters if an encore is possible.
posted by ovvl at 5:47 PM on November 14, 2018

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