Welcome to the Underworld Blog


C Smith, J Bezzina, W J Williamson, A Feutrill, G Hodder and W Thorson, Special Photograph number 1607, 25 January 1928 New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums

Find out more about Sydney’s crime history with our exciting new blog.

Sydney Living Museums cares for 12 museums and historic houses, including the striking sandstone Justice & Police Museum, once one of the colony’s busiest legal complexes.

Today, the museum cares for an eclectic collection of material relating to Sydney’s criminal and policing history. This includes the remarkable New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive, made up of approximately 130,000 negatives in both glass-plate and cellulose film formats.

Taken between 1910 and 1964, the images in the archive document, in all their gritty and at times confronting detail, Australia’s ‘Sin City’ – its people, their misfortunes and their crimes.

Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties is the latest in a series of exhibitions exploring the archive through extensive research and high-quality reproductions of the fascinating police images, never intended for public consumption. Find out more about this unique collection of negatives known as the ‘Specials’ – mugshots of suspects in police custody, and particularly the extraordinary series taken between 1920 and 1930.

The exhibition and accompanying book explore suspects’ stories, photographic techniques, and new research into 1920s crime networks. Immerse yourself in all things Underworld with a line-up of exclusive events and behind-the-scenes insights from the expert Sydney Living Museums team.

Now, descend further into Sydney’s seedy underworld with our exciting new blog featuring engaging articles, images, videos and more.

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