Elementary . . .

By: Matt Foss on December 9th, 2020

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Whether factual or fictitious, trying to solve a mystery can be fun. If it wasn’t, nobody would play Clue, read Agatha Christie, or watch Twin Peaks.

While these examples have sinister undertones, there’s a lighthearted mystery confounding Woodson Art Museum staff. Several times, the Museum anonymously received tiny decorative penguins through the mail. With wire frames and beaded bodies, the penguins tagged with Museum staff member names are a whimsical addition to our offices. The accompanying handwritten notes as well as postage associated with the arrival of the penguins offer no credible leads.

Our growing colony


The penguin “Zodiac Letters”

That brings us to the recently retired Shari Schroeder. In this little “whodunit?” Shari is playing the role of the crusty, old retired detective who never solved that one troublesome cold case and is now using spare time in retirement to solve it. Shari does not deserve the adjectives “crusty” or “old,” but the characters in those stories always fit that bill, so work with me here.

With artistic talent prevalent in the penguins, and the fact that penguins correspond to staff members, we believe an artist is behind it all. Because Shari was the point person for artists included in Birds in Art and communicated with them frequently, she offers vast knowledge on artists’ personalities, as well as artists’ handwriting samples. Alas, after poring through evidence and compiling suspicions, she has yet to determine the penguins’ true origin.

I wonder if the artist angle is all a red herring? What if it is a Museum member or stakeholder who is sending the penguins instead? What if a member and an artist are in cahoots? All plausible conclusions.

Perhaps only another batch of penguins arriving at the Museum will bring the penguin sender or senders out into the spotlight. Unless of course “Shari-lock Holmes” can solve the mystery first.

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