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Museum Rules

by Alex Irpan, Catherine Wu, and Harrison Ho


We are given a storybook with pictures of a tourist breaking weird “museum rules.” Through a bit of googling key terms for each picture, we’ll eventually find that these images are all referring to weird things that are illegal or popularly believed to be illegal in different states. For example, “donkey bathtub” or “elephant parking meter” might be good break-in points.

We identify the state where each activity is illegal. Based on the flavor “appeal to the highest power” and the large circle on the last two pages of the book, we can infer that we are looking for the Supreme Court seals from each state. (It is important to use the Supreme Court seals, rather than the state seals. The two use similar motifs, but usually differ slightly.) Each object the tourist sees during each of their illegal activities can be found somewhere on the corresponding state's Supreme Court seal. Images can be seen in the Appendix. By overlapping the seal with the provided circle, we can extract the letters TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

ImageStateIllegal ActivityPart of SealExtraction
TexasSelling one's eyeTop of largest starT
ArizonaHaving a sleeping donkey in a bathtubWhere 3 arrows startO
UtahFiring missiles into bus terminalsSunT
MontanaBringing sheep onto a railroad track with the intent of damaging the railShovel headA
WashingtonMarathon dancingNostrilL
VermontPainting a horseRight scaleL
IndianaTaking a bath between October and MarchMiddle of the bookY
OhioKilling a fly next to a churchHalfway along each arrow (they all share a midpoint)U
DelawarePawnbrokers can't accept prostheticsFeathered hatN
New YorkTaking selfies with tigersMiddle of Stan Lee's motto (Excelsior)A
HawaiiPutting coins in your earsFlower stemC
WyomingTattooing a horseHead of pickaxeC
ConnecticutBiking above 65 mphTruthE
FloridaPaying for a parking meter if you tie an elephant to itShieldP
OregonOwning more than 50 sexually intact dogs. (The last 2 squares have 2 dogs, giving 51 dogs in total.)OxenT
ArkansasPronouncing Arkansas incorrectlyLaurelsA
North CarolinaPlowing cotton fields with an elephantHand holding scalesB
New JerseySelling handcuffs to minorsSecond plowL
NevadaDriving a camel on the highwayEagle's beakE

Authors' Notes

During construction and factchecking of this puzzle, we found that many of the activities claimed to be illegal were urban myths and did not have a matching primary source. As much as possible, we tried to use acts that were truly illegal, but we made concessions for states with interesting seals or urban myths that were amusing.

For the sake of completeness, we believe the weird laws used for Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, and North Carolina are no longer real or were never real.


Texas - Top of largest star
Overlay onto Texas Supreme Court seal
Arizona - Where 3 arrow start
Overlay onto Arizona Supreme Court seal
Utah - Sun
Overlay onto Utah Supreme Court seal
Montana - Shovel head
Overlay onto Montana Supreme Court seal
Washington - Nostril
Overlay onto Washington Supreme Court seal
Vermont - Right scale
Overlay onto Vermont Supreme Court seal
Indiana - Middle of the book
Overlay onto Indiana Supreme Court seal
Ohio - Halfway along each arrow
Overlay onto Ohio Supreme Court seal
Delaware - Feathered hat
Overlay onto Delaware Supreme Court seal
New York - Middle of Stan Lee's motto (Excelsior)
Overlay onto New York Supreme Court seal
Hawaii - Flower stem
Overlay onto Hawaii Supreme Court seal
Wyoming - Head of pickaxe
Overlay onto Wyoming Supreme Court seal
Connecticut - Truth
Overlay onto Connecticut Supreme Court seal
Florida - Shield
Overlay onto Florida Supreme Court seal
Oregon - Oxen
Overlay onto Oregon Supreme Court seal
Arkansas - Laurels
Overlay onto Arkansas Supreme Court seal
North Carolina - Hand holding scales
Overlay onto North Carolina Supreme Court seal
New Jersey - Second plow
Overlay onto New Jersey Supreme Court seal
Nevada - Eagle's beak
Overlay onto Nevada Supreme Court seal