The Museum of London‘s major autumn exhibition, The Crime Museum Uncovered, opens in October. The exhibition utilises over 600 artefacts from the Metropolitan Police‘s infamous Black Museum to investigate (pardon the pun) the history of detective work and the museum over the past two centuries.
The Black Museum opened in 1875, but the exhibition provides some context by looking at the longer history of policing in London, from the formation of the Met under the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829.
Although its coverage of pre-20th century offences and convictions is necessarily limited by the smaller amount of artefacts in the Black Museum relating to this period, it then covers events up to the 21st century, from the Krays’ exploits and espionage in the suburbs to terrorism, from the Fenians to the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack.
I am really looking forward to seeing the exhibition when it opens, but have a few reservations about how it presents the artefacts, which I have explored in a piece for History Today here.
I’m hoping those reservations are unfounded; but inevitably, any exhibition that looks at crimes from domestic murders to terrorism has to balance the desire to get good “footfall” with the need to be sensitive about the narrative it explores about crime, detection and punishment.
If you want to get an idea of some of the things that the museum will be showing, Buzzfeed has, perhaps inevitably, produced a good list of 21 Morbidly Fascinating Things From Scotland Yard’s Hidden Museum Of Crime.
The death mask of Daniel Good is being exhibited courtesy of the Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum, New Scotland Yard, and was photographed during the Museum of London’s media briefing on The Crime Museum Uncovered.