Underworld: Mugshots of the Roaring Twenties Exhibition

Things to do, Exhibitions
Underworld: Mugshots of the Roaring Twenties Exhibition
Photograph: NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums Arthur Caddy, 6 March 1929

[Sponsored] See the faces behind the crimes of 1920s Sydney

Sydney in the 1920s is a completely different city to the one we know today. There was no Opera House, but lots of Art Deco architecture, flapper dresses and jazz. There was also a seething undercurrent of crime and a hearty trade in guns, vice and violence. See the faces behinds the 1920’s dark side at the Sydney Living Museums’ new exhibition Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties.

At the exhibition, you’ll see more than 130 mugshots taken of Sydney’s undesirables taken between 1920 and 1930. Everyone from petty criminals to gang bosses are on display, some scowling, some simpering and some even smiling as their mugshots are taken. Each image has been digitally scanned from the original glass plate negatives taken by police nearly 100 years ago.

Unlike the typical mugshots of today these photos (known to the police then as ‘Specials’) pose the crims however they wish – they’re more like portraits than mugshots. To coincide with the new, gritty exhibition Sydney Living Museums have also created an accompanying Underworld book, featuring more than 220 captivating mugshots, as well as running a series of talks and tours.

Ready to meet Sydney’s best-styled criminals? Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties is open everyday (excluding Christmas and Good Friday) at the Museum of Sydney until August 12.

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