This exhibition investigates how facts gave way to the demands of popular fiction and how history became hearsay – the past imperfect. Gangsters & Gunslingers brings together two defining chapters in the history of the United States that shaped America’s national identity: the Wild West (mid 1860s to the late 1880s) and the wild years of the Prohibition/Depression era (1920s and early 1930s).
Each epoch produced legendary characters, who have become famous and infamous. Historical figures showcased in the exhibition include Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, who survived the Gunfight at the OK Corral; Al Capone, the crime lord of Prohibition-era Chicago; and the outlaw lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Many astonishing personal items will be on public display for the very first time in this exhibition, such as the armoured vest found in Bonnie and Clyde's bullet-riddled death car.