Crime never changes. It’s human nature and, sadly, the horrible things that happened in London 100 years ago are still happening today in one guise or another. That’s the tragic lesson in a video in the final room of The Crime Museum Uncovered, currently exhibiting at the Museum of London.
Through four rooms and dozens of fascinating case studies, you learn how crime in London evolved (or not) over many decades. The exhibition starts strong with some Jack the Ripper artefacts and theories- including a letter from someone purporting to be the serial killer which became the basis for a police appeal poster.
Elsewhere in the first two rooms are various courtroom sketches, in much more detail than those of today due to law changes, and a row of nooses used to hang criminals. The meaning behind the latter display, that each piece of rope actually took a life in the pursuit of justice, is difficult to fully comprehend, a feeling that subsists with many of the later exhibits.
In the main room is a series of examinations into serious crimes up to the 1970s (to stop anyone too closely affected being further upset by the exhibition). These all come complete with a run-down of the crime, mostly murders but also featuring serious burglaries and frauds, to accompany exhibits from the Met’s own usually hidden Crime Museum.
Most famous in this section is a look at the Kray twins, but every single example is fascinating and absorbing to learn about.
Other exhibits include drug paraphernalia and shockingly brutal weapons, alongside glimpses of The Great Train Robbery and an attempted burglary at The Millennium Dome.
Meanwhile items from IRA bombings and the 7/7 terrorist attack are there to see alongside the sombre news reports. Seeing actual bomb parts and knowing the horror they led to is very humbling.
With all of this and more, The Crime Museum Uncovered is a thought-provoking and at times horrifying look at the dark side of London. Alongside the rest of the Museum of London, this exhibition is well worth a few hours of quiet time – on until April 2016.