Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Crime Museum

When I was down in London for the Detection Club's annual dinner at the Dorchester, I took the opportunity to do some sight-seeing. One of the capital's great virtues is the wealth of tourist attractions that have real substance, and since I ceased to be a full-time lawyer, I've enjoyed filling in a few of the gaps in my knowledge by visiting a host of exhibitions. Last week, I made it to the British Library, the Transport Museum, the British Museum,and the Museum of London.

At the Museum of London, there is at present an exhibition featuring Scotland Yard's Crime Museum, sometimes known as "the Black Museum". Having much enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the same venue a year earlier, I resolved to take a look at the new exhibition, and I can say that I wasn't disappointed. There was a very good crowd that morning, and it was a reminder of the massive public interest in crime and criminals,

There were some fascinating items on display, including a good many associated with famous murder cases, including the Crippen case. It was the first time I'd ever seen the remnants of Crippen's pyjamas, which helped to convict him. There were also some quite shocking items on display, such as a pair of binoculars designed by a man to blind a former girlfriend.The exhibition also included a video in which various people discussed the ethics of displaying gruesome exhibits. I quite agree that the ethical questions deserve to be put, though I'm very much of the view that there is nothing wrong in holding such an exhibition. On the contrary. It was informative and educational as well as interesting.

I bought a book that accompanies the exhbition, The Crime Museum Uncovered, by Jackie Kelly and Julia Hoffbrand, though I haven't read it yet. It's profusely illustrated, and will be a useful reminder of the exhibition, though I'm not sure whether it contains much additional information, and the absence of an index is a shame. But I can unreservedly recommend the exhibition.

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