It might seem a bit macabre, but when you consider all those tortured saints in Italian art then going to see forms of crime and punishment at The Criminal Museum in Rome suddenly seems less weird.
Housed in an old 19th century prison building, the place has an authentically oppressive feel, especially as you have to pass through a security check just to go inside. This is because the police still use some offices within the building.
The museum is divided into three sections: crimes and punishment, police investigation techniques and life in prison. But don’t expect to feel like you’re in an episode of Law and Order or Starsky and Hutch, this place is the real deal and not for the faint-hearted. The most interesting section is the Punishment and Crime exhibition. There are wax models and objects to show forms of torture and punishment practiced over the years in European prisons. They also have weapons used in crimes; these are no replicas, these axes, guns, knives, belts, stilettos are the actual implements used to commit terrible crimes. There are also archives and photographs from the Italian prison system and historical displays tracing the development of prisons.
A visit to the Criminal Museum is a fascinating look into history and human nature. Expect a few bad dreams afterwards.
Located at Via del Gonfalone, 29, the museum is open Tuesday to Saturday mornings, and also Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.