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Walters Art Museum, Baltimore artist to attempt world's longest game of telephone

While Baltimore already boasts the world record for the largest bowl of applesauce (weighing a whopping 716 pounds) and largest iced tea (2,204 gallons), the city will attempt to add another Guinness World Record to the list next month.

The Walters Art Museum has partnered with Waverly artist Lexie Mountain in an effort to break the record for the longest game of telephone.

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The childhood favorite requires the first person standing in a line to recite a message written on a piece of paper to the next person in line. The message is quietly passed on from person to person until it reaches the last person, who says it aloud, comparing it to the initial message.

The current record for the longest game of telephone was set in London in 2008, with 1,330 people, according to the Guinness World Records website. And so the Walters and Mountain will shoot for 1,331 people or more for their event May 22.

Alexander Jarman, the manager of adult and community programs at the Walters, estimated that the museum will open every gallery on three of its four levels, winding people through the different rooms to spread the message.

"We are definitely hoping to bring some people that haven't been in the museum for a while. We're hoping to give a reason for people to come inside the doors, and once they get here, we're going to help them see the collection in another way," Jarman said.

Mountain and the museum have arranged for an array of activities to take place along the route of the line to keep people engaged during what could be a three-hour wait to break the record. The experience will be filmed as proof for the Guinness World Records organization, Mountain said.

"It's hard to stand in line for three hours for no other reason other than to receive a totally garbled message and then say it," said Mountain, who intends to use the video footage for a future art installation. "So I guess what I'm hoping is that the excitement of being a part of this helps alleviate some of that boredom."

The artist came up with the concept a few years ago, she said, nestling it away into an "idea file" until she was encouraged by Walters Art Museum staff to bring it to life at the museum.

"I hope we do break the world record," Mountain said. "Because that would be amazing for Baltimore to have that record. … As a city, communication is really crucial, and we just need to stay in touch with each other. That's something that needs to happen, and it is happening in a way."

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