Just had a wonderful trip to Tennessee, but missed the Crime Museum there. I saw the Grand Ole Opry the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Jack Daniels Distillery—all in the Nashville area. Alas, I didn’t make it across the state to Alcatraz East in Pigeon Forge where the renamed Crime Museum relocated recently.
The founder of the museum, attorney John Morgan , formerly operated it as the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, DC. He figured DC was where laws were made, so why not highlight how and why some of these laws have been broken. For some undisclosed reason, the Crime Museum didn’t make it financially in DC.
I visited the not-so-impressive International Spy Museum (think espionage) in DC a few years ago. It managed to publicize itself better than the Crime Museum which I hadn’t known about then. The Spy Museum charged serious admission and is a “for profit” just like Morgan’s museum. So, it’s a mystery why the Crime Museum failed and the Spy Museum didn’t in DC. By the way, DC is filled with “not for profit” museums that don’t fail because they’re taxpayer-funded.
There’s hope the Crime Museum will do better in the destination-vacation city of Pigeon Forge. It’s the home of Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s sprawling theme park), the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Hollywood Wax Museum. If the Crime Museum founders, maybe changing its name from Alcatraz East will help.
As a San Francisco-based criminologist, I’ve been to the real Alcatraz and to prisons in the Greater Bay Area.. Alcatraz gets visitors because it’s on an island that hordes of SF tourists can see from Fisherman’s Wharf. If you want to see a real brick-and-mortar prison, do yourself a favor and enroll in a criminology course in your area. Its instructor likely as not takes his/her students to nearby jails, prisons, police departments, etc.
Admittedly, tho, you won’t see either of these Alcatraz East attractions, but a crim course will cover many of the same concepts that the Crime Museum tries to bring home:
It’s all about Criminal Justice.
Press release from the museum:
ALCATRAZ EAST EXHIBITS NOW OPEN!
The White Ford Bronco that carried a frantic and suicidal OJ Simpson during the most famous televised car chase is our guests’ favorite artifact so far! Visit our Facebook page to see our awesome views.
Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur: The Ugly Truth Of Wildlife Trafficking. From capture to trade, there is an international crisis concerning protected species in the wild.
The Crime Museum.
Wiki: “…Alcatraz East is 24,000 square feet, two stories, and is themed as a 19th-century prison, inspired by the infamous Alcatraz island prison in San Francisco. Alcatraz East includes interactive displays and artifacts that cover criminal intent, criminal profiles, the penal system, victim’s stories, law enforcement, crime prevention, forensic science, and our justice system.
The historical area of the museum displays how crimes were committed, cases were solved, and how jury members came to an agreement on final sentencing. Anecdotes and facts about the background and behaviors of infamous prisoners are also a part of the museum.
John Dillinger’s car, Al Capone’s rosary, Ted Bundy‘s Volkswagen Beetle, and the Bronco from the O.J. Simpson murder case, an FBI polygraph machine, Al Pacino’s sub-machine gun from the movie Scarface, items related to the 2012 Benghazi attack, and the latest in law enforcement technology are a few of the artifacts that are on display….”
Please tell me what you think if you’ve visited Alcatraz East… or have visited the earlier DC version.
If you really liked your experience, or really didn’t, lay out your reasons for me and my readers.
To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.