Review: National Museum Of Crime And Punishment

By Sally Stacey

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Visitors to Washington D.C. usually flock to the obvious attractions of the White House, Capitol Hill and the Smithsonian Museum but if you are interested in crime you could consider a visit to the Crime Museum in the Penn Quarter. The museum was opened in 2008 and was established by Floridian businessman John Morgan and John Walsh the host of America’s Most Wanted and offers over 700 exhibits relating to the history of crime and punishment in the United States, presented in 5 galleries.

History of Crime

This gallery explores the evolution of crime across the ages from the frightening medieval world of torture implements, through the Wild West exploits of Jesse James to notorious American criminals like Bonnie and Clyde. Interactive exhibits allow you to test your shooting skills on the range, attempt to crack a safe and experienced being pilloried. You can even try your hand at hacking into a computer file.

Crime Fighting

No exploration of the world of crime would be complete without celebrating the work of law enforcement. This gallery illustrates the work of unsung heroes and famous crime fighters alike and features exhibits including notorious firearms and the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. There is also the opportunity to try a high-speed police chase simulator and see thermal imaging technology in action.

Crime Scene Investigation

Here you will find yourself immersed in a recreation of a crime scene complete with fresh evidence. Learn about and use forensic science to solve a murder which has just taken place. If that is not sinister enough you can discover the wonders of an autopsy in the recreation of a morgue! There are exhibits regarding non-violent crimes like forgery and counterfeiting and you can explore the police files of unsolved cases.


In case you were still of a mind to become a criminal this gallery explores what it is like when you get caught. There is a replica of a police station complete with jail cell and you can experience the procedures a captured criminal will have to go through including an identity parade and a lie detector test. If you are still not deterred the sight of the lethal injection machine, the gas chamber or that most unpleasant piece of oak furniture, the electric chair should put you off for life!

Television Studio

Complete your tour by visiting the America’s Most Wanted television studio which is used year round to film the series. Learn about the dramatic results that can be achieved by community involvement in crime fighting. Over 1000 fugitives have been captured as a result of calls to the show.

A Great Day Out

The museum may be a little macabre and does celebrate the less pleasant side of human behaviour but nonetheless makes for an interesting and stimulating day out. It took $21 million dollars to establish this monument to crime and so there is plenty to keep you occupied if you do decide to visit.

Sally Stacey is an enthusiastic blogger and traveller with an interest in true crime.

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About Bloice Davison

Bloice C. Davison, III blogs, travels occasionally, and takes pictures. He has experience in the telecommunications, banking, retailing and outside sales businesses. He is a former fly-fishing guide and fly-fishing instructor for the Orvis Company. He served as an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist in the United States Air Force. A 1988 graduate of Virginia Tech, he also has a BS in statistics from the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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