National Justice Museum commissions study on the place of justice and law in modern society


The National Justice Museum, due to be officially opened at locations in London, Nottingham, and across the North West in April, has commissioned a report to explore the question; “does something being legal make it right and does something being illegal make it wrong?”

Discussing the differences between right and wrong in both a moral and a legal sense, the paper will include commentary on modern slavery, the place of protests in today’s society, how freedom of speech has changed, and the importance of education in relation to social justice. Furthermore, the work will reflect on relevant historic milestones, all of which relate to its own archive, which at over 40,000 pieces forms the UK’s largest collection of law, justice, crime, and punishment artefacts.

Tim Desmond, chief executive of the National Justice Museum, said: “The museum, both through its exhibition spaces in Nottingham, and the education programmes run in London and the North West, is tasked with inspiring people of all ages to learn about justice. We want visitors and students to gain a real sense of their rights and responsibilities; something that is becoming increasingly relevant in the modern political landscape.

“With this in mind, we felt it necessary to ask academics, professionals, students, young people and the wider public about their opinions. The resulting report will not only be a fascinating talking point during our exciting launch period, but a representation of how important knowledge is to the success of the legal system and social progress.”

The report will be based on a questionnaire, due to be circulated to the museum’s current academic and professional contacts and the general public through the continued educational programmes and planned street activities.

Currently known as the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham, the former 14th century courthouse and gaol dating back to 1449, will include new areas to display a wider selection of archive items, feature an increased number of interactive displays, a new crime gallery featuring free exhibitions plus even more fun, family friendly activities thanks to its £1 million Heritage Lottery Fund support.

The positive impact of the improved Nottingham-base and its archive will be echoed through new education programmes held at National Justice Museum Education departments situated at the iconic Royal Courts of Justice in London and at legal and heritage sites across the North West. Previously known as the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law (NCCL), the National Justice Museum Education will reach over 20,000 children and young people across the country, taking on a much more powerful role of encouraging on-going learning and the recognition of the value of social justice, equality, and the law.

Tim, added: “The doors opening at the museum in April, and the new education programmes in London and Manchester, are just the start of the story.

“In addition to the beautiful new exhibition spaces giving due attention to key archive pieces, such as forensic evidence from the Great Train Robbery, we’ll be working with other national organisations such as the Tate London which is due to feature one of our star pieces; the cell door of Oscar Wilde. These partnerships, as well as the work we’ll be doing at our London and Manchester locations, reflects the truly national reach of the work that will originate from our Nottingham-base.

“Furthermore, the National Justice Museum is a charity. As we don’t receive any public subsidy, our priority must also always be sourcing ongoing support to ensure we can continue this vital education work in Nottingham and beyond.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “This transformation of the  museum will allow a much wider audience to explore the fascinating history of law, justice, crime, and punishment, and will create a nationally important cultural destination for Nottingham. We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support this project.”

In addition to the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the transformation has also been made possible by support from WREN, Charles Hayward Foundation, Museum Development East Midlands, Big Lottery Fund: Awards for All, Arts Council England, Jones 1986 Charitable Trust, JN Derbyshire Charitable Trust, and the Forman Hardy Charitable Trust.

The National Justice Museum will open at 10am on Saturday 1st April 2017. For further updates, follow @JusticeMuseum on Twitter.

Please note: a new website for further information is set to be launched soon at 

For more information, please contact Rose Hayes or Megan Harris at Cartwright Communications on 0115 853 2110 or email /

National Justice Museum will replace the brand names of the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham and the National Centre for Citizenship and Law (NCCL), which delivers education programmes at legal and heritage sites in Nottingham, London and the North West. The City of Caves in Nottingham will also be part of the National Justice Museum.

Following a £1million Heritage Lottery Fund supported project the new National Justice Museum, due to open its doors in early April, will include an exciting range of new exhibition areas, whilst displaying the UK’s largest collection relating to law, justice, crime and punishment.  The newly refurbished museum will also offer a range of fun, interactive activities for the whole family to enjoy. As part of the rebrand, a VIP Nottingham launch will be taking place on April 18 to celebrate the national museum’s new name and identity. There will also be VIP launch at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the museum delivers education programmes, on April 26 and a VIP Manchester in May.

Following its refurbishment, the Nottingham-based museum, based on High Pavement in the Lace Market, will welcome ‘Journey to Justice’ from April 1 to June 16 2017. The exhibition explores human rights movements and celebrates significant milestones and people throughout the history of social justice.

Heritage Lottery Fund

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What’s on at the new National Justice Museum

 Visitors will be able to discover stories of justice through time and explore items from the UK’s largest collection relating to law, justice, crime and punishment. They will also get the opportunity to meet characters from history, experience dramatic performances in the new ‘Theatre of Law’, see an exciting range of brand new exhibitions and take part in fun new activities, games and puzzles throughout the museum. Here’s a snapshot of what is new to enjoy at the museum…

The Theatre of Law

The trial of Daniel Diggle

Marking 200 years since Luddite Daniel Diggle was tried and executed at Nottingham’s Shire Hall on 2nd April 1817, the museum has created a special courtroom re-enactment which will be performed by their professional company of storytellers.

Diggle was arrested after attempting to shoot a man during a frame-breaking rampage. Visitors will hear the defense and prosecution for the case before deciding whether he paid a fair price for his crime.

Performances are available at selected times throughout the day and are included within the general admission charge.

 Free exhibitions in the new Crime Gallery

The National Justice Museum’s brand new Crime Gallery will include an exciting new range of free family activities, fun interactives and new exhibitions exploring a range of topics relating to crime. It will explore questions such as What is crime and what causes people to commit crime? There will also be exhibitions focusing on protest, riots and terrorism, murder and robbery – where visitors will be able to see original forensic evidence relating to the Great Train Robbery.

Special exhibition until 16 Jun – Journey to Justice

The space will also feature a new exhibition exploring human rights movements and will celebrate those people who have stood up to make a change. The Journey to Justice Exhibition will feature stories from the US civil rights movement, as well as a range of local and regional stories relating to civil rights and social justice.

Stories include that of a Nottingham lace manufacturer who fought for the abolition of slavery and pioneered advances in workers’ rights; Nottingham’s involvement in gay rights activism in the 1960’s; and an exploration of struggles against poverty.

The exhibition will also highlight campaigns to kick out discrimination in sport and will highlight issues of inequality that still exist today. It will feature the story of Viv Anderson who was the first black footballer to represent England in a full senior match and was also an integral part of Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest team that went on to win two European Cups.

New exhibitions throughout the museum included within the general admission charge

As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported capital works, the old exhibitions featured at the Galleries of Justice Museum have been stripped out and replaced with brand new exhibitions ready for the launch of the National Justice Museum. Admission to the museum is valid throughout the entire day so visitors will be able to explore these new exhibitions at their leisure. Themes for the new exhibitions include:

In the emotive Capital Punishment Exhibition visitors will find out about the kind of crimes that people were executed for and examine the story and key events that led to abolition of public executions in 1868 and of execution altogether in the 1990s. In addition, they will be able to look at various methods of execution, learn about key execution cases and key executioners from the late 19th century to mid 20th century, and find out which areas across the world still carry out capital punishment today.

A new Children and Young Offenders in Prison Exhibition will examine the history of children and young offenders in prison, from the 18th century to the current day. Visitors will learn about late 18th and early 19th century reformatory schools and industrial schools,1907 borstals, 1930’s approved schools, 1980’s young offenders institutes, ASBO’s, tagging and community sentences and the daily life for children and young offenders in prison today.

A new Punishments Exhibition will explore punishments from the medieval times right through to the Victorian period. Focusing on stories relating to items from the museum’s extensive collection, visitors will get an insight into different methods of punishment including prison, public humiliation and transportation. Objects included within the exhibition will include gibbet irons, the flogging block from Newgate Gaol and a scold’s bridle.

 A new exhibition entitled Women in Prison will examine the experiences of women in prison from the 1700’s to the present day.

The new Prison Reform Exhibition will examine the work of prison reformers John Howard and Elizabeth Fry. It will look at the work they did and how some of these reforms are still in existence in prisons today. The exhibition will also look at charitable organisations that are campaigning to make changes to the prison service of today such as The Howard League and the Penal Trust.

Additional exhibitions will include The History of Nottingham Gaol, an exhibition of artwork by prisoners at Lowdham Grange Prison, and an Object in Focus Exhibition, which will change regularly throughout the year, and will take a closer look at an object from the museum’s extensive collection.


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