Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Virginia.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Alcatraz East- Pigeon Forge Tennessee

Easily one of the most unique, bizarre, and interesting museums I have visited in a LONG time is the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.  This museum was formerly located in Washington DC and was called the National Museum of Crime and Punishment while there.

This museum moved to the area late last year (just before the fires hit) and it seems to be going strong.  There was a good crowd there the day I visited.  Adult tickets were $25-$35 (general admission-VIP ticket) and kids tickets were as cheap as $15.  We did the general admission ticket, and we still killed over 2 hours here.

If you have spent much time in this area, you know that ticket prices for ANY attraction can be steep.  In my opinion, the ticket price for what you get here makes this a good value...  especially if you are fascinated with crime and its history.
There were several items that I wanted to see.  One thing that really impressed me was a relic relating to the Salem With Trials (if you've been by this blog before, you know about my interest in the event).  Well, Alcatraz East has a very cool item relating to trial judge Samuel Sewell.  This one item gives Alcatraz East a leg up on many witch related attractions actually IN the city of Salem.  If you have visited Salem, you know that authentic items relating to the trials are very rare to non-existent.

You may also remember that a little over a year ago, we visited Austin Texas, and I read the book, "A Sniper in the Tower" about the very tragic shooting that occurred at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.  Well, the museum has a case of items relating to that event, including one of the shooter's rifles.

Another sad crime that I almost feel a bit of a personal connection to involved the Pizza Bomber case out of Erie Pennsylvania that occurred in 2003.  If you aren't familiar with that one, look it up.  It was a very strange one, with an absolutely tragic ending that baffled authorities for years.

In 2003, we lived in Cleveland, and we just happened to be in Erie a lot in the early 00s.  We would go see their minor league team, the SeaWolves a lot.  There were a couple of nice concert venues in town we would frequent too.  At that time, Erie was almost our second hometown... and this crime was so disturbing.

Anyway, I could go on and on about that.  But I did want to see the small case of items from that crime, including the collar bomb.

The museum also had a room devoted to 9/11 that showed a film, and contained many items relating to the attacks.


There is a great (and informative) display on the 4 presidential assassinations too.

There were many other displays and items that impressed me (there were entire sections on the old west, pirates, witch trials in Europe, etc).  I felt that each section was very impressive, and the museum prides itself on authentic relics.  Several of the staff I talked to during our visit boasted of the fact that 95% of the items displayed are authentic.

As far as museums go- having so many actual items is impressive.  Sure, there are a lot of sign and wall displays to read here, but they hit it out of the park on authenticity.

AND, being that this is the Crime Museum, there is something... well, dark about it all.  There are actual murder weapons here.  Heck, the place is full of items directly related to (and mostly involved in) famous crimes.

I talked to one staff person who mentioned that there has been some criticism, especially relating to certain items displayed at the museum.  That criticism I think is fair, but if you are putting down $25+ to visit the Crime Museum, you know what you are in for.  Still too, this IS a museum, and it is a museum that feels complete.

I haven't even mentioned some of the museum's most talked about items.

One area that could use some improvement here is the gift shop.  I wouldn't want to see shirts with actual items used in crimes on them.... but the gift shop was skimpy.  Most of the items sold were very generic, and you could get them somewhere else.

Anyway, I like this museum a lot and I think it is a great fit for Pigeon Forge.  I would LOVE to see more MUSEUM type attractions in the area (right now, there is just Alcatraz East and the Titanic Museum). 








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