Friday, 12 September 2008

Serial Killer Museum in Florence, Italy

Saying hi to Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy looks like such a pleasant young man. He’s well dressed, has a lovely car and sports a suitably sensible haircut. Just a shame he had to kill all those people, really.
Standing next to Ted’s waxwork model is just the tip of the iceberg, however. As his story is recounted in frighteningly specific detail through the headphones, a quick scan of the room confirms that bigger horrors await. Such as Aileen Wournos and Jeffrey Dahmer
The Serial Killer Museum in Florence, Italy does exactly what it says on the tin; lots of gore, blood, weaponry and vile misdeeds. And, as such, it is by far the most entertaining thing in the city.
The level of research is commendable. Mass murderers from around the world have been collated, and their stories told. Occasionally it comes across as a rather sick game of Top Trumps, with signs comparing factors such as Number of Victims and Modus Operandi.

John Wayne Gacy’s bedroom
It’s hard to work out whether the visuals or the audio is more disturbing. There are electric chairs, model psychopaths locked in cages and a painstaking recreation of John Wayne Gacy’s bedroom (complete with him in a clown outfit). All jolly pleasant, especially when added to the commentary. It’s no exaggeration to say that you could sit there listening to it for hours, and it goes into the mindset of the killers, what it would have been like for their victims and the methods that police used to track them down. With shameless sensationalism, it regularly uses phrases like “beastly fury”, “signature from hell” and “the assassin can appear from nowhere... AT ANY TIME!”

History of serial killing
It’s not a cheap, morally dubious cash-in, though – it is genuinely well done. There’s a sense of context and history – French slaughterers and Hungarian vampiresses from as far back as the 15th century also get covered – whilst there is also a big emphasis put on how such crimes are solved and dealt with. This includes methods of punishment, with the tales of lethal injection tables and electric chairs gone wrong accompanied by real-life (decommissioned) dispatch mechanisms to gawp at.
And, for these reasons, a bizarre serenity envelopes the museum, completely at odds with the subject matter. It’s quite clear that most of the visitors are frazzled and harried from a day of hardcore tourism in a fairly unrelenting city. The opportunity to sit down in a nice chair and listen to the theories about Jack The Ripper while Charles Manson stares at you is, oddly, a very welcome one.
Who’d have thought the Butcher of Rostov would make better company than Michaelangelo’s David?

Getting to the Serial Killer Museum in Florence
The Serial Killer Museum is part of the Museo Criminale on Via Cavour in Florence. It’s a couple of minutes’ walk away from the Duomo.

Nearest international airport: Florence.

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