There is much to explore at the Museum, housed in the first custom-built court house and oldest building in the city of Perth. The Museum is free to visit and invites the public to engage with the history of the Court House building and its vast social and legal interpretation. The Court House is a significant site nationally and internationally, recognised as the birthplace of British law, religion and education in Western Australia. Built seven years after the Swan River Colony established itself, the court house served as a court, school, church and civic hub.
The Museum has three permanent galleries; Judge’s Chambers, People and the Law and Past to Present. These galleries discuss Aboriginal, British and Australian law systems, the evolution of British Law into Australian law and important developments and changes to the legal system resulting from cultural evolution and social demand. Temporary displays are also exhibited in the Museum, shining a new light on items in the Museum’s collection connecting it to a variety contemporary themes and social issues.
Displayed as it would have looked in 1905, when it was used as the Arbitration Court, come and try out the Judge’s chair and imagine yourself presiding over trials!
Originally the Judge’s robing room and office, this gallery tells the story of the first 50 years of the building’s history.
People and the Law
Tells the stories of early trials, the clash between Aboriginal Lore and British Law, and how the legal system has evolved to form the system we use today.
From Past to Present
The law continues to change in response to society’s demands. This gallery reflects on whether Western Australian laws have evolved to meet community expectations.
Audrey Jacob: Trial by Public Perception
We invite you to explore hidden details in the Audrey Jacob case, undisclosed evidence and the manipulation of gender stereotypes and social conventions in the court and media.
The Museum will shed the spotlight on the infamous Western Australian case of Audrey Jacob. In August 1925 at the Government House Ballroom, Audrey shot and killed her ex-fiancé, Cyril Gidley.
Considered an open-and-shut case, this temporary exhibition invites visitors to consider hidden documents, evidence and media reports to weigh up the facts versus the influence of societal conventions on the trial.
Guided Tour: If only walls could talk
Visit the Old Court House Law Museum on the first Friday of every month at 12:30pm for a free 20-minute tour of the Museum.
Discover the early history of Boorloo and the Swan River Colony through stories of early trials, scandals and social events that occurred within the building itself. We will take you through into the Museum rooms and share some highlights before taking any questions.
Bookings are recommended.
School Holiday Activities
Why not have a go at these fun activities from home during the school holidays!
Can you describe a suspect and create an identikit picture? Work with a partner and see whose drawing most resembles the suspect’s mug shot.
Take turns to describe your suspect, use the tip sheet provided and prompt questions to make sure you gather as much information as possible.
Please note: children will be working with mug shots of real West Australian men and women taken in the 1920s and 1930s.
Building The Old Court House
Discover the architectural details of Perth’s oldest surviving building!
Decorate and create your own Old Court House!