Black Museum
The Black Museum of Scotland Yard is a famed collection of criminal memorabilia kept at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London, England. The museum came into existence sometime in 1874, although unofficially. It was housed at Scotland Yard, and grew from the collection of prisoners' property gathered under the authority of the Prisoners Property Act of 1869. The act was intended to help the police in their study of crime and criminals. By 1875, it had become an official museum of the force, with a police inspector and a police constable assigned to duty there. The first visitors for whom records exist came in 1877. The first known reference to the museum as the "Black Museum" came that year as well. Despite being intended primarily for use by the police, the public could see it by special arrangement. The name "Black Museum" was a nickname; the collection was formally referred to as the "Crime Museum." The term was also applied to a museum of failed engineering components collected by David Kirkaldy at his testing works at 99 Southwark Street, Southwark, London. The latter museum was destroyed in the London Blitz. The artefacts included fractured lugs from the Tay Bridge disaster.

The exhibits included many death masks made of executed criminals, as well as collections of weapons, tools used by burglars, and items that had been evidence in crimes. In 1951, British commercial radio producer Harry Alan Towers produced a radio series hosted by Orson Welles called The Black Museum , inspired by the catalogue of items on display. Each week, the programme featured an item from the museum and a dramatization of the story surrounding the object to the macabre delight of audiences. Often mistakenly cited as a BBC production, Towers commercially syndicated the programme throughout the English speaking world. The American radio writer Wyllis Cooper also wrote and directed a similar anthology for NBC that ran at the same time in the U. S.; called Whitehall 1212, for the telephone number of Scotland Yard, the program debuted on November 18, 1951, and was hosted by Chief Superintendent John Davidson, curator of the Black Museum.

Crime Museum
The Museum was moved to New Scotland Yard in the 1980s and was subject to substantial renovation in recent years. The Crime Museum, as it is now called, currently resides in Room 101 at New Scotland Yard and consists of two sections. The first, a replica of the original museum contains a substantial selection of melee weapons, some overt, some concealed, including shotgun umbrellas and numerous walking stick swords. This room also contains a selection of hangman's nooses including that used to perform the UK's last ever execution and letters allegedly written by Jack the Ripper. The newer section of the museum contains many exhibits from 20th century crimes, notable inclusions include the fake De Beers diamond from the Millennium Dome heist and Dennis Nilsen's stove. The museum can be visited by Police officers from any of the country's police forces by prior appointment, though not without difficulty due to its popularity. The Black Museum of criminal artefacts also hosts over 500 items preserved at a constant temperature of sixty-two degrees, a special place is reserved for a set of printing plates, a remarkable series of forged bank-notes, and a cunningly hollowed out kitchen door once used to conceal some of them, once belonging to Charles Black, the most prolific counterfeiter in the Western Hemisphere.

  • There is a fictional Black Museum, inspired by the actual one, inside the Grand Hall of Justice in the Judge Dredd comic strip.
  • A fictional version of The Black Museum is often featured to in the Dylan Dog comic series and, in some stories, exhibits are stolen from the museum.
  • A 1958 horror film called Horrors of the Black Museum references the Black Museum in a story of a crime writer (played by Michael Gough) who commits grisly murders in order to write articles and books about them for public consumption.