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Museum unlocks Houdini's secrets

June 04, 2004|From Associated Press

APPLETON, Wis. — How did Harry Houdini do his signature "Metamorphosis" escape, in which he was handcuffed inside a sack and locked in a trunk and yet somehow managed to switch places with an assistant on the outside?

Visitors to an exhibit that opened Wednesday at the Outagamie Museum in Houdini's hometown found out the secret.

Among other things, visitors learned, the trunk has a side panel that allows someone inside to sneak out.

The disclosure has some in the business tied up in knots.

Magicians say their code of ethics prohibits revealing secrets to the public. The famous and not-so-famous alike, including David Copperfield and Ronald "Rondini" Lindberg, have called to protest its "A.K.A. Houdini" show.

But museum officials in Appleton, a city of about 70,000, insist the exhibit hasn't revealed anything not already available in books and on the Internet. They also say people will appreciate magic more by knowing the secrets.

The exhibit -- set to run for 10 years -- includes 38 artifacts, 190 documents and hands-on displays.

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