Time On Their Hands: Historic Artifacts from Her Majesty's Penitentiary

Lay Summary 

This project formed a new partnership between the Department of Archaeology at Memorial University and Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, St. John’s in the form of a museum exhibition. The historical artifact collection of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary is now on public display in the Great Hall (Queen’s College). This is the first public display of these artifacts, which represent over 150 years of history. Objects such as homemade tattoo machines created from everyday objects, tobacco packages, shoes with secret compartments for smuggling contraband, and everyday items fashioned into makeshift weapons are part of this fascinating and eclectic collection. The exhibit was launched on November 23, 2018, bringing together academics and students from departments across the university, as well as members of the corrections community and Department of Justice. The display is just the beginning of this partnership and it is hoped that the collection will spark conversation and research collaborations using the artifact collection and the historical documents from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary being conserved and curated by The Rooms Provincial Archives.

St. John's Campus
Public Engagement Accelerator Grant
St. John's
Start date 
23 Nov 2018
Lead Organization 
Department of Archaeology
Partner Organization 
Her Majesty's Penitentiary