Richard Dennis, special photograph number 1677, 31 May 1928, probably Central Police Station, Sydney. New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums

Welcome to the dark side of the Roaring Twenties

Exhibition now on tour

Descend into Sydney’s seedy underworld in our new photographic exhibition revealing the dark side of the Roaring Twenties.

Explore more than 130 candid and compelling mugshots taken by New South Wales Police between 1920 and 1930. Known as the ‘Specials’, they are unlike any found elsewhere in the world.

Immerse yourself in all things Underworld with the stunning accompanying book and an exciting line-up of talks, tours and more.

Exhibition now on tour


Tour schedule

Newcastle Museum
6 Workshop Way, Newcastle NSW 2300

Sat 9 Mar 2019–Sun 30 June 2019

Leeton Shire Council
23-25 Chelmsford Place Leeton NSW 2705

Fri 12 Jul 2019–Sun 13 Oct 2019


The Stories

Explore the dark side of the Roaring Twenties and meet the players of Sydney’s criminal underworld and the police who fought to keep the mean streets clean.

The Roaring Twenties



The Collection

These mugshots are part of the New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive, a remarkable collection of images held at the Justice & Police Museum.

Find out more
about the collection

Get the book

Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties

This book features 220 intriguing mugshots of police suspects from 1920s Sydney. Documenting the denizens of the criminal underworld – from stone-cold gangsters to wayward youths – it provides an extraordinary rogues’ gallery of thugs and thieves, prostitutes and pickpockets, white-collar opportunists and blue-collar gunmen.

Shop now

Stay in touch

Sign up to eNews

Keep up-to-date with the latest news, events & exclusives.

Join us

Become a member

Enjoy a range of exciting member-only benefits including free entry to our 12 museums & historic houses, year-round access to unique and engaging exhibitions, special discounts, exclusive events and more.

No matter the season there’s always something to see and do with a Sydney Living Museums membership.

Find out more