Video: Abbey House’s Murder in the Museum restored


Abbey House Museum’s quirky 1930s penny slot machine ‘Murder in the Museum’ has been restored.

The much-loved machine recently broke down, and council chiefs searched the country for the right team of specialists to carry out the complex restoration work.

Kitty Ross, Leeds Museums and Galleries curator of social history, said:

“The machine is not only colourful and fun, it’s also a wonderful window onto a golden age of crime fiction, when these sorts of comic and macabre machines were the latest thing and helped to spark a fascination with grisly crime stories that still exists today.

“Everyone at the museum is pleased to see Murder in the Museum back up and running, particularly as it plays such an important part in our Crime and Punishment exhibition, which has been such a huge success so far.”

Played out by a series of small, automated models, Murder in the Museum’s main suspects include a woman with a large handbag, a man lurking behind a display cabinet and a man hiding inside an Egyptian sarcophagus.

The machine was made in 1934 and is the work of Leeds sisters Alice and Eveline Dennison, who built mechanical fortune telling machines and working dioramas for installation at exhibitions, fairs and bazaars.

The family originally operated out of Blackpool Tower, selling their machines to the Tower Company in 1944.

Murder in the Museum is now available to see at Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall, alongside the Crime and Punishment exhibition. The exhibition explores the history of law and order in Leeds and the rest of the UK from the 1650s to today.

An accompanying film, which features a live-action version of the story, has been produced in collaboration with Target Productions and includes local amateur actors and actresses.


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