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About the exhibition: Medieval Torture: Dark Deeds in The Dark Ages is an educational and eye opening look at how the practice of torture was used in Medieval times to both extract confessions of guilt and also to punish lawbreakers and those who had run afoul of state and clergy. Comprised of numerous authentic torture instruments, ancient restraints, and even devices used in Medieval executions, Medieval Torture: Dark Deeds in The Dark Ages showcases the largest private collection of these rare instruments in private hands in Canada and, arguably, in North America. Large full scale modern made reconstructions of iconic historic torture machines such as the dreaded rack and full body gibbet chains act as “anchor” pieces for the exhibition and compliment the numerous smaller artifacts featured in the collection. Aiming to separate fact from fiction and show how the sternest parts of Medieval law used torture both as a means to an end as well as a vehicle of punishment, Medieval Torture: Dark Deeds in The Dark Ages casts new light on mankind’s darkest past. *NOTE: The exhibition can be presented in it’s full sized format or in a scaled down version suitable for smaller sized venues.

About the curator: Steve Santini has researched ancient restraints as well as instruments of torture and execution for over 25 years. His research into the devices themselves led him to study the periods of time in which they existed as well as the laws and customs that led to their construction and use. Over the decades, Santini’s fascination with these curious and storied objects led him to assemble the largest private collection of ancient restraints and instruments of torture in Canada. The objects featured in this collection were culled from many far flung corners of the globe which Santini had visited in the course of his research and fact finding missions. He is a published author, having written an illustrated guidebook to historical restraints titled, “Devices of Human Restraint” and he has worked with numerous private collectors, auction houses, and museums on the research and attribution of both ancient restraints as well as instruments of torture. Two such museums of note Santini has assisted are, The Medieval Kriminal Justice Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany and The National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. where over 70 pieces from Santini’s personal collection are on public display. In February of 2010 Santini travelled to Sissach, Switzerland where he spent 3 weeks as the personal house guest of Guido and Jackie Varesi. Guido Varesi owns one of the most impressive private collections of ancient torture instruments and execution devices and these can be viewed on public display in his “Henkermuseum” in Sissach. His three weeks spent with Varesi saw Santini learning much from Varesi about how Medieval techniques of torture, punishment, and execution were applied under existing laws and also about the varied customs and even superstitions that were associated with the devices and those who used them . Currently, Steve Santini is collaborating with Guidio Varesi on a book that will separate fact from fiction, showcase both of their extensive collections, and that will also present an accurate overview of Medieval punishment, torture, and execution.


At the Medieval Kriminal Justice Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, Steve Santini examines a rare Medieval shackle with the former curator of the museum, Herr Schmidt.
 

Guido Varesi, owner of The Henkermuseum in Sissach, Switzerland offered Steve Santini an unprecedented "hands on" study of many of the rare devices in his personal collection.