Tags: culture, historical, museum
Fittingly, the Justice & Police Museum has been a Water Police Court (1856), Water Police Station (1858) and plain old Police Court (1886). Death masks of some of Australia‚Äôs more infamous crims are on display, as well as mugshots, assorted deadly weapons and newspaper reports of sensational wrongdoings. Also on view is a recreated 1890s police charge room, a dark and damp remand cell, and a restored Court of Petty Sessions with its notorious communal dock, which could hold up to 15 prisoners at a time.
Over the many years of its official occupancy, the complex dealt with innumerable criminal incidences. Whilst a few became celebrated, such as the Pyjama Girl Murder and the Graeme Thorne kidnapping, the vast majority occur outside the public eye. However, even the simplest matter could embroil a whole range of people - from the victim, witnesses, offender and police to the lawyers, clerks, reporters and Magistrate and in this way the Museum is testimony to the impact of crime at many levels.
An exploration of the Museum's corridors reveal some of these people - anonymous faces peer out, names are carved deeply in sandstone walls and meticulous handwriting is preserved on endless forms. Yet the site also speaks of a world beyond itself, for the story of these buildings reflects the growth of Sydney from bustling port to modern metropolis.
Today, with its displays and education programs, the Justice and Police Museum explores the continuing history of law, policing and crime throughout the whole of New South Wales. Many of these relate to this site and to particular historical episodes, general themes and contemporary issues. In this way, although the original functions of these buildings have ceased, the history they contain is preserved and continues to grow.