Wednesday 26 October 2016

Crime exhibits get museum outing

Published 04/06/2015 | 18:06

Masks used by the Stratton Brothers - the first criminals to be convicted in the UK for murder based on fingerprint evidence (Museum of London/PA)
Masks used by the Stratton Brothers - the first criminals to be convicted in the UK for murder based on fingerprint evidence (Museum of London/PA)

Objects relating to some of London's most infamous crimes have been shown outside Scotland Yard for the first time ever.

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The sneak preview of artefacts from the Met's Crime Museum - also known as the Black Museum, open only to police professionals and invited guests - took place at the Museum of London.

It came ahead of the Crime Museum Uncovered exhibition which opens on October 9, featuring just under 600 objects from the 1820s up to 2007 taken from the collection.

Also announced today as part of the exhibition are a badly-burned laptop computer involved in the 2007 Glasgow Airport terror attack, "microdots" containing secret messages used by the Portland Soviet spy ring in 1961, and a memoir containing handwritten notes by Donald Swanson, senior investigating officer in the Jack the Ripper case.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said: "The Crime Museum has been in the organisation for over 100 years as an educational tool highlighting the advances in detective work and some of the key cases.

"We felt it was a real opportunity to expose some of that history of the Met, which is also the history of London, to a wider public."

Mr Hewitt denied that the Black Museum had ever been secret, adding: "It's a private collection, although we have invited hundreds of people in over the years.

"You have to remember that all the exhibits in the Crime Museum are about real people and so you have to be quite sensitive about how you expose that to a broader audience.

"There is always a danger that an exhibition like this could glamorise crime but we have worked incredibly hard with the curators at the Museum of London to make sure that doesn't happen."

Co-curator Jackie Keily explained that the exhibition will take a broad look at crime themes such as terrorism but also delve into 25 individual cases arranged chronologically.

These will go from 1905 to 1975, a hundred years after the Crime Museum was founded, so that cases where close relatives are still alive are not looked at in detail.

Ms Keily said: "We are covering all famous cases like Dr Crippen, the Krays, the Great Train Robbery, but for me it's also about the stories that are less well-known.

"There are a huge amount of objects relating to crimes committed throughout London from the 1820s all the way up to 2007 and it's about drawing out the stories of everyday people."

The items shown at today's preview were:

:: A rare "Notice to Occupier" appealing to the public to come forward with information about the notorious Jack the Ripper murders in 1888;

:: A bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne and a tin of Andrews Liver Salts used by the Great Train Robbery gang in 1963, found at their hideout in Leatherslade Farm, near Oakley in Buckinghamshire;

:: A pin cushion embroidered with human hair by Annie Parker, a woman who was arrested over 400 times for alcohol-related offences in the 1800s;

:: The death mask of Daniel Good, who was executed outside Newgate prison on May 23 1842 for the murder of his wife, Jane Jones. The delay in catching Good led to the formation of the Yard's first specialist Detective Branch;

:: Fourteen counterfeit silvered 2p coins seized by the Metropolitan Police in 1979.

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