Musée de la Prefecture de Police – Paris, France - Atlas Obscura

Musée de la Prefecture de Police

A museum which takes visitors to the côté obscure of Paris. 


Founded 100 years ago by the Préfet Louis Lépine, the Musée de la Prefecture de Police guides visitors through some of the more somber chapters in the history of Paris.

The visit is punctuated with objects, photos, and recreations of executions, poisonings, and massacres, making it an uneasy experience for some.

The museum outlines the role played by the police and security forces in the city between 1667 and 1945, but tends to gloss over the more unsavory moments, particularly the role played by these institutions during the 1871 Commune uprising and the Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

Of particular interest though is the room focusing on 19th and 20th century crime where you can find a recreation of the working environment of Alphonse Berthillon, the famous anthropometrist. It is a fascinating look at how criminals were identified before the ages of fingerprinting and DNA checks. Also keep an eye out for the wax head of murder Henri Pranzini, made from his guillotined head, and an eclectic collection of confiscated brass knuckles. 

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