Museo Criminologico

The Chamber of Horrors in the London Wax Museum is the only thing even remotely comparable to the somewhat shocking displays at the Criminological Museum in the High Court of San Jose. The enormous building (Avenida 6, Calle 17 and 19) contains gory displays which are meant to shock and to discourage would-be criminals. The methods employed by Costa Rica’s law enforcement officials are anything but subtle.

The displays include military-looking machetes, pistols which tear through bone and tissue, razor-sharp knives, and even preserved human body parts which have been severed by these weapons. It is a macabre collection in a category entirely of its own.

Even the history of criminality in Costa Rica and the driest of criminal statistics are exhibited with the intention of producing a powerful impression on the spectator.

Gruesome examples bring their point home: an illegal abortion is illustrated by a preserved fetus in a glass jar – a graphic example of the bitter controversy over legalized abortion which has raged in Costa Rica for decades.

Tabloid journalists and authors of criminal pulp fiction may find inspiration in the department dedicated to “the country’s most spectacular crimes.”

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