The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace: Leonardo’s Artmergency

News of an escape game to take place within the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace created ripples of excitement among escapists and art fans alike. In Leonardo’s Artmergency, a curator has vanished from the exhibition of Da Vinci’s drawings, and it’s up to you to delve into the great master’s work to find clues to their whereabouts…

Leonardo’s Artmergency

  • Location: Buckingham Palace! (nearest Tube: Victoria)
  • Players: 4 – 8
  • We played: July 2019 as a team of 6

Great things about Leonardo’s Artmergency

  • All the tasks in this experience were based on the drawings in the A Life in Drawing exhibition, and we were surprised and impressed by how much had been created with this limited type of resource as a starting point. Granted, there are a lot of drawings – more than 200 – but the fact that players cannot handle these priceless works presents a special challenge to the game designers, and this challenge was solved in many creative ways. Puzzles were both plentiful and varied, requiring us to use different skills and approaches.
  • Leonardo’s Artmergency differs from most escape rooms in that teams attempt it in overlapping time slots; that is, while the game takes an hour in total, teams start at 15-minute intervals. The game takes place over four rooms of the exhibition, and teams are moved from room to room until they reach the final challenge. While this meant that technically we didn’t have the whole space to ourselves, this process was so smoothly organised that we never saw the other teams, and only occasionally heard them. The competent, enthusiastic museum wardens ushered us on to the next room at just the right moments, and helped us out with gentle hints when we found things tricky.
  • Six players was bigger than our usual team size – often we find that with more than three or four people there’s just not enough to keep everyone fully involved. That wasn’t the case here; there were plenty of puzzles that could be attempted at the same time, as well as lots of space and, naturally, some fascinating pictures to look at in the quieter moments!
  • This was a fun, alternative way to experience an exhibition as it really encouraged us to look more closely at some of the exhibits. Although we weren’t looking at each work at a leisurely pace as one might usually do in a gallery, we still learned a few things about Leonardo’s life. We thought a combined gallery-escape room ticket would be a great way to encourage visitors to take both complementary approaches to the exhibition.

On the other hand…

  • As you’re moved on swiftly to the next room of the gallery when your time in one room is up, usually you don’t have time to complete all the puzzles in each space. This is preferable to having too few tasks to do and waiting around until you can move on, but we didn’t like to think that there were puzzles we didn’t get to try!
  • This game uses a lot of combination locks and padlocks throughout. Different types of locks were used, but it nevertheless elicited our most common escape room complaint: we sometimes found ourselves with one code, and several possible combination locks in which to use it.

Who should try this room?

Unfortunately, Leonardo’s Artmergency quickly sold out for the entirety of its limited run (ending 12 October 2019). Otherwise we would have recommended it to family groups and groups of friends alike – anyone who wants a different, more challenging way to experience an exhibition. We hope it will inspire more gallery-based escape games!

Rating – 7/10

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