What do post-impressionist painters have to do with dinosaur fossils? How do the paintings overlay, and where does “satellite” fit in? Where was the missing dinosaur tooth and the $10,000 scholarship?
The theme of the Fall 2017 treasure hunt was post-impressionist painters and their works. There were five types of clues hidden in the videos: hidden “fun” images, other picture clues, red letters, number clues, and letter clues. Here’s how they all fit together:
Hidden Paintbrushes, Keys, and Teeth
Each episode contained three hidden objects that related to the overall story: a paint brush, a key, and a dinosaur tooth. These images related symbolically to the treasure hunt, but neither the objects themselves nor their placement in the videos contained any clues to the location of the buried treasure. These images were intended to provide motivation, a diversion, and a feeling of accomplishment to participants who might otherwise have felt overwhelmed by the more intricate puzzle.
Each week’s first video began with a painting-related quote, and each quote contained a few letters that were colored red. As the other letters disappeared, the red letters remained, spelling words that would provide critical hints about how to solve the treasure hunt: postimpressionist, vigenere, riddle, 3 paintings, 2 museums, and satellite.
Six of the videos were hiding number clusters. These clusters could be deciphered using a simple substitution code where A = 0, B = 1… Z = 25. When translated, these clues spelled the names of three different artists and one of each of their paintings: Seurat and La Grande Jatte, Lemieux and La Fete-Dieu a Quebec, and Picasso with Fan, Pipe, and Glass. More on these paintings in a minute…
Each video contained a hidden series of letters. As the red letter clues at the beginning suggested, these letters, when strung togther, make up the master riddle. But first, they must be transposed using a vigenere code, with the word postimpressionist as the key.
Here’s the riddle:
Other Hidden Images
The other pictures which appeared in the videos served as confirmation clues, verifying or clarifying other clues that appeared. Episodes containing encoded names of painters also contained hidden flags from each artist’s homeland. Episodes hiding the names of different artworks also concealed images from the various paintings. Before the Lemieux clues, an image of a compass pointing NE appeared. Before the Picasso clues, a NW arrow was concealed. And the final two images were that of a satellite and a tree.
Putting it All Together
The riddle suggests that four people will point to the treasure, and the clues list three of them (along with their 3 paintings): the pointillist Seurat, the free-form Lemieux, and the cubist Picasso. Since “two shoulder the frame,” and we’re looking for 2 museums (another red clue), we can discern that we need to “frame” or “hang” the third painting on the two museums that house certain paintings. The NE image by the Lemieux painting indicated that the NE “shoulder” lies at the Musee National Des Beaux-Arts Du Quebec. The NW image by the Picasso painting indicated that the NW “shoulder” lies at the Honolulu Museum of Art. That leaves the third – La Grande Jatte – as the painting to be framed. As previous Brain Chase solutions demonstrate, Google Earth has a convenient “overlay” feature that simplifies tasks like this.
Here’s what the Seurat paiting looks like when “shouldered” by the Lemieux and Picosso museums:
But who is the fourth man? The riddle suggests that Seurat “marks his claim ‘neath the forth, at the base of the tree.” Looking closely at Seurat’s masterpiece, there is one man – right in the center – who sits at the base of a tree. “Under” this man lies the treasure – but how to guess it wihin a two-mile radius? The “satellite” clue drives it home. Underneath this man lies the general vicinity of Mexico City, Mexico. A search for “Satellites” near that portion of the map point to a “satellite city” of Mexico City – Cuidad Satelite.
The lost dinosaur tooth lies buried beneath a tree in Cuidad Satelite, just outside of Mexico City, Mexico.
Congratulations to our winners!
Did you solve the puzzle? There’s plenty more adventure where this came from. Register today for the next Brain Chase program, and you could be the next treasure hunter traveling around the world to claim your prize.
The Brain Chase Team