City of Shadows

Inner city crime & mayhem 1912-1948

Curator Peter Doyle describes the exhibition as ‘an intimate, raw and hauntingly beautiful record of the mysterious people and dark places of a Sydney lost’.

Focusing on the victims, perpetrators and vicinities of crime, the original City of Shadows introduced the world to the museum’s extraordinary and compelling collection of police forensic photography dating from 1912 to 1948. You will meet thieves, breakers, receivers, magsmen, spielers, urgers, gingerers, false pretenders, hotel barbers, shoplifters, dope users, prostitutes, makers of false oaths and the occasional murderer.

Since 2008, Sydney Living Museum curators have been investigating leads and following up tips from the public. New research has solved many of the mysteries surrounding the people and places in these compelling photographs, and the stories that lurk behind the images – sometimes thrilling, sometimes mundane – can now be revealed.


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Interior shot of darkened room with shelving crammed with papers and files.

Forensic Photography Archive

Are his fingerprints all over it?Thursday 26 June 2014

Recent work by SLM curators is helping us to better understand how this collection evolved and to identify the men responsible for its creation and preservation.