#EscapeTheMuseum: ASU Art Museum holds first "escape room" event

New York-based consulting firm Museum Hack helped coordinate the real-life puzzle game with the museum

Jumping on board with the booming "escape room" gaming trend, the ASU Art Museum hosted "Escape The Museum" this past Friday, drawing a crowd of about one hundred attendees.

The New York-based firm Museum Hack, who designed and coordinated the event, said they plan to return to the museum in the future for similar events.

An escape room is a real-world puzzle in which participants use clues to figure out how to get out of a room or building.

The concept is adapted from thematically similar video games, a popular example being the app “The Room.” The earliest physical escape room is thought to have been created in Japan in 2007 by Takao Kato. It spread in popularity throughout parts of Asia and eventually reached the U.S.

Dustin Growick and Zak Martellucci work for Museum Hack and coordinated Friday’s event. They worked in conjunction with several ASU Art Museum Student Ambassadors to make sure everything went smoothly for the museum’s first run.

ASU Art Museum combines escape game with art history from The State Press on Vimeo. Video by Marcella Baietto.

According to its website, Museum Hack does consulting for museums across the country for events such as this in order to attract millennials and younger people. This was their first time putting on an event like this with the ASU Art Museum.

“Part of our business is working with museums all over to do fun, different types of events and get new audiences in the door,” Growick said. “Ideally that’s what’s going to happen tonight.”

“This is the first iteration of this idea here,” Martellucci added.

According to Growick, this was the largest version of the event they had ever done. Previous ones had only been between ten and 20 people.

Before the event, attendees mingled outside the museum in the underground foyer. Many grouped themselves into teams of three or four and got to know each other before the event, which was supposed to be highly interactive and team-oriented.

French exchange student and junior political science major Elie Baladou was excitedly waiting for the event to start. He said he was excited for the interactive aspect of the escape room.

"I like the challenge, so I'm open to every possibility," Baladou said. "I don't know exactly what it will be, but I think it will be great to try something in English as well because it's kind of difficult for me because it's not my mother-tongue. But yeah, I think the challenge will be great."

@museumhack at @asuartmuseum for #escapethemuseum

A post shared by HALEY HiNDS (@museum.shorty) on

Growick said Museum Hack has big ideas for when they return to the ASU Art Museum at the end of the summer.

“We will be back at the end of August to do a similar (thing) but it’s going to be even larger,” Growick said. “Still here, but instead of maxing at one hundred or so people, (there will be) at least twice that many.”

For more details on the next "Escape the Museum" event, visit ASU Art Museum's events page.

Reach the reporter at parkermshea97@gmail.com or follow @laconicshamanic on Twitter.

Reach the videographer at mmbaiett@asu.edu or follow @marcellabaietto on Twitter.

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