Controversial and ground-breaking exhibitions are nothing new to London’s Wellcome Collection, but the latest exhibition, ‘Forensics – The Anatomy Of Crime’, brings the gruesome crime of murder and its detection to the fore…
Organised scientifically as you might expect, Forensics is split up into five neat sections – The Crime Scene, The Morgue, The Laboratory, The Search and finally The Courtroom.
There are uncomfortable sights throughout – some of the most shocking are the series of graphic photographs of murder scenes taken with minutes of the crime, victims’ bloody corpses still in situ. Equally unpleasant are close-ups of fatal bullet wounds and bullet tracks exhibited in the second room, which also includes a cold, slick mortuary slab that was once put to use in Rotherhithe.
Much of Forensics is also given over to the pioneers who made the key breakthroughs in forensic science – Edmond Locard of Lyon’s police department for example, who in 1910 set out the idea that a perpetrator would leave physical traces behind at the scene and Sir Edward Henry, who was the first to set out a classification system which could distinguish between different fingerprints. Later scientists made even greater leaps, such as forensic pathologist John Glaister and anatomist James Cooper Brash who developed a technique to make positive identification of victims more accurate by superimposing portraits of living subjects over their decayed skulls.
Being a London exhibition, it should come as no surprise that our own most notorious murderers figure – in the fifth room the crime committed by the cold, calculating Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen looms large, featuring sketches from the courtroom, court papers and news articles recording his desperate flight across the Atlantic to escape justice.
All in all, I think it’s true to say this exhibition makes for a profound and disturbing experience, and I highly recommend it, although if you’re someone of a particularly sensitive disposition you might want to give this one a miss . Forensics – The Anatomy Of Crime will be on show at the Wellcome Collection until June.