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Our criminal past is on our doorstep

27 Sep 2011

Our criminal past is on our doorstep Image

By Yasemin Pelevan

It’s easy to forget the past, especially when past memories are quite confronting.

Located on Docklands’ doorstep is the Victoria Police Museum, which brings Victoria’s criminal past back to life.

Kate Spinks, public programs curator of Victoria Police Museum, says the museum is an important part of Melbourne’s history.

The museum takes you on an emotionally-charged journey of Melbourne’s criminal history. But most importantly it celebrates the bravery of Victorian police officers who have risked their lives protecting citizens.

“Visitors get to see the sorts of things police are confronted with in everyday work. They do things people would not want to do,” Kate said.

The museum has a collection of evidence, photographs and stories from some of Melbourne’s most notorious crime scenes.

“A lot of people don’t realise how many major criminal events are involved in the creation of Melbourne,” Kate said.

The museum follows a history of crime in Victoria dating back to the Kelly Gang.

The Kelly Gang exhibition is one of the more popular attractions and has just arrived back in Melbourne after travelling across Australia. The exhibition includes Steve Hart and Dan Kelly’s armour and Ned Kelly’s blood-stained cartridge bag.

Kate says it’s interesting to hear the police side of the story, which tends to be left out of popular history of the Kelly Gang.

From police firearms to confiscated weapons, crime scene photographs to forensic evidence, and even “Eric” the bomb disposal robot, the museum offers an intimate account of the work of Victorian police officers.  The museum is enjoyed by people of all ages.

“We have a diverse audience. We have local visitors, interstate visitors and even international visitors,” Kate said.

Janet, 60, from Cranbourne found the museum “by accident” but could not be more pleased with her discovery.

“I think it’s very informative and fascinating,” she said.

The museum is located in the same precinct as the police headquarters at the World Trade Centre at Northwharf, which adds to the reality of the museum.  Walking up to the museum visitors can see police officers at work, or wandering around the building.

Kate says this is an important element of the contemporary setting and allows visitors to get “a feel for the diversity of the job”.

Dockland residents can expect two new exhibitions to arrive in the museum this month. One is the “Horses to Horse Power” exhibition. The other is “Morgues, Murder and Mayhem”, a 3D display which focuses on crime committed along the Yarra River and will be running for the next 12 months.

The Victoria Police Museum is free and can be enjoyed weekdays from 10am-4pm.

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