As an author of crime fiction, I’ve been trying to get to the City of Waterloo Museum to see the to see their true crime exhibit “Arresting Images: Mug shots from The OPP Museum.”
The tiny museum gallery is housed in Conestoga Mall, with an entrance from the food court, as well as exterior entrance.
Admission is free, and the exhibits I’ve attended have been well worth it.
This exhibition includes 100 framed reproductions of mug shots selected from the from the OPP collection of spanning the late 19th and early 20th century people arrested, as well as selected blowups of what are essentially portrait photographs taken by the same professional portrait photographers who photographed our law abiding ancestors.
There is a post card circulated to identify a suspect,and mug shots not only from Ontario, but including suspects from cities in nearby New York.
The origins of the mug shot
The mug shot as we know it, had it’s beginnings in the early days of photography. In 1841, just two years after the invention of the daguerreotype, the Paris Police began to include daguerreotype portraits in their criminal files. In England, the Bristol gaol staff adopted the practice of photographing prisoners in 1848. American and Canadian police and detective agencies were quick to follow suit. The mug shot was born
In order to display both the front (photograph) and back (arresting information) of the images, faithful reproductions of both sides of 100 mug shot cards have framed for the exhibit.
The exhibit also includes physical memorabilia, so visitors can see early handcuff styles, a section devoted to Waterloo policing, as well as an interactive area where children of all ages can experiment with disguises, find out how big a jail cell was, or take your own mug shot.
My favorite part was the informative display covering early photographic methods. I was surprised to see just how small actual daguerreotypes were.
Since visiting the exhibit, I have a couple of questions, so I might just pop in again before the exhibit closes, on Friday (May 9, 2014).