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Sam Croxton, a student from Nottingham Trent University who has been on placement at the Museum blogs about the redevelopments
I had visited the National Justice Museum 3 years ago with my Sixth Form as one of the many schools who visit regularly on school trips, and I have to say my recent return was even more enjoyable than the first, which is a tough task in itself! Much has changed since my first visit but the museum has still retained its warm welcome and engaging staff members.
The first exhibit available to you is the Crime section, detailing how the approach to crime has changed over the years. Insight into the contrasting views of social reformer Henry Mayhew and Professor of forensic medicine Cesar Lombroso are intriguing; it’s hard to understand that Lombroso believed criminals were born criminal and had physical characteristics that differentiated them from law abiding public! The ‘Journey to Justice’ exhibit colourfully describes the Civil Rights movement in the USA with insight into some of the activists themselves, including Bayard Rustin and Janice Wesley. Their stories are truly inspiring and their sacrifices have had a profound effect on the society we live in today.
One factor that distinguishes the National Justice Museum from most other museums is its use of live actors, including the performances in the famous Court Room. With the redevelopment has come the new portrayal of the case of Daniel Diggle, whose story is presented in an interactive and enjoyable manner through the lively actors, with member of the public of all ages also getting involved in re-enacting the trial. A variety of roles are available from the court judge to Mr Diggle himself. I took part as a member of the jury, so the fate of Daniel Diggle was in my hands! It was genuinely interesting to see how members of public, including myself, viewed the evidence given, compared to how it was viewed 200 years ago. Outside of the court room you may bump into one of the actors who were always happy to answer any questions I had, whilst still keeping in character as much as possible. Simply having the freedom to walk around the prison cells that once held high profile criminals is fascinating; placing yourself in their shoes is an experience in itself.
Throughout the entire museum there are a variety of new family activities and fun interactive and videos that can entertain people of all ages, as well as being informative at the same time! There are several opportunities to share your personal thoughts on particular topics, most notably capital punishment; it’s interesting to see people’s opinions on controversial topics such as this.
It is fair to say that a trip to the National Justice Museum is worth every penny to people of all age groups. I left feeling entertained, as well as having learnt something new from every exhibition on offer! I could talk even more about the array of exhibitions on offer, but that’s not for me to tell, but for you to find out!
The National Justice Museum, based at the old Shire Hall courthouse and jail, is a registered charity and is a leader in public legal education, delivering learning activities for children in Nottingham, London and the North West