A visit to the morgue

By Loïc Artiaga (translation Daniel Magennis)


Caption: [Postcard ‘Visite de Mimi à Paris’ (‘Mimi’s trip to Paris’), G. Gervais – editor]

The  ‘Forensics’ exhibition, which  has been showing in London in the Wellcome Library since February, is closing tomorrow. It presents what was one of the most popular attractions of the Belle Époque in Paris: the visit to the morgue. One hundred years ago, corpses which had been put on display in order to aid in their identification found themselves surrounded by curious onlookers seeking to satisfy macabre appetites. The current exhibition documents this historical attraction to the morbid. Its principal goal, however, lies elsewhere. It aims to show the progress of the understanding of death and, entering the modern era, the science applied to the process of solving crimes. A wealth of new knowledge, fed by the illusion that rationality could triumph over the basest of criminals and crimes, would be applied to the corpses laid out on mortuary slabs and, before long, would also be arrayed against what, or whom, put them there. Continue reading

Alphonse Bertillon : an Eye on Crime (Exhibition)


Opening today and lasting until November an interesting exhibition, curated by renowned expert Pierre Piazza, is devoted to the inventor of scientific police, Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914).   It presents a rich and diverse collection of some 200 items, some of them belonging to the  Department of Forensic Identification of the Paris Police, some of them stemming  from Bertillon’s personal collections, presented and contextualised  with  archives consisting of press clippings, of  illustrations, caricatures, films and photographs. It shows the  methods used to ascertain and investigate crime and to find the criminals, based on the collection and analysis of the traces they left.  The exhibition show how, for example with crime scenes photographs, Art, technological innovation and forensic science merge.