We were delighted to discover this fascinating exhibit on the third floor of the modern police station, fairly well hidden among the twisting narrow lanes on the Left Bank near the Seine. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to look for a police museum, but now I discover that there are many of them in the cities of the world. Houston, L.A., Sydney, Vancouver, New York… how have I been missing these? They’re a wonderful resource for writers of crime fiction.
The one in Paris may be the oldest. It was started by prefect Louis Lépine (1846-1933) in 1900. It’s fitting that this should be the first, because the “French police officer Alphonse Bertillon was the first to apply the anthropological technique of anthropometry to law enforcement, thereby creating an identification system based on physical measurements.” (Wikipedia, Forensic science.)
The great museums of the world — the Louvre, the National Gallery in London, the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City – are wonderful on a grand scale, but I love these specialized museums the best. Every time I turn around, I go, “Oh! Look at that!” And there’s usually nobody else in there, which somehow adds to the pleasure of discovery. The signage is all in French, but with a little boost from Google Translate here and there, you can get the gist. French is a lot like English, after all.