The Unclean Truth

Death at the London Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum


  • Lucy Talbot Hampshire Police



Crime Museum, death, luminal, murder, object biography


The Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum, famously known as the Black Museum, exhibits evidence from some of the most appalling crimes committed within English society from the late-Victorian era into modernity. Public admittance to this museum is strictly prohibited, preventing all but police staff from viewing the macabre exhibitions held within. The physical objects on display may vary, but whether the viewer is confronted with household items, weaponry or human remains, the evidence before them is undeniably associated with the immorality surrounding the performance of a socially bad death, of murder. These items have an object biography, they are both contextualized and contextualize the environment in which they reside. But one must question the purpose of such a museum, does it merely act as a Chamber of Horrors evoking the anomie of English society in physical form, or do these exhibits have an educational intent, restricted to their liminal space inside New Scotland Yard, to be used as a pedagogical tool in the development of new methods of murder investigation.


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Author Biography

Lucy Talbot, Hampshire Police

Lucy Talbot is an Intelligence Analyst for Hampshire Police and has been working for the organization since 2009. She completed her Masters degree at the University of Winchester studying Death, Religion and Culture in March of this year. Lucy’s research has predominantly focused on socially bad death and access to the Crime Museum has given her a unique opportunity to carry out fieldwork in a private space outside of the public domain, looking at objects of evidence from criminal investigations dating back to the Victorian era.


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How to Cite

Talbot, L. (2013). The Unclean Truth: Death at the London Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum. Fieldwork in Religion, 8(2), 175–187.