National Museum of Crime & Punishment - District of Columbia - Private Interactive Museum Dedicated to Villains and Justice in Washington Up Against National Menu of Free Museums



The National Museum of Crime & Punishment is located near Chinatown in downtown Washington D.C. at 575 7th St. NW between E andF Streets across from the Verizon Center.

The galleries and interactive exhibits are separated into 5 principle areas: A Notorious History of Crime, Punishment, Crime Fighting, CSI Lab and America's Most Wanted.

Fact and fantasy are mixed at times. Most displays use real criminal and crime-fighting artifacts but fictitious articles such as the Bonnie and Clyde's car used by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway when portraying the outlaw duo in the classic 1967 film, are also in the collection.

Each of the 5 general sections contains an array of exhibits displaying artifacts as well as interactive activities in the 28,000 square foot space of museum.

Interactive activities include giving visitors the chance to be shackled in a wooden pillory of colonial times and have your photo taken as a prisoner, as well as testing one's skills at shooting in a wild west mock up environment or attempting to crack a safe. The modern age computer hacking is also on the menu of interactive exhibits.

Torture devices from diverse time periods are on display as well as the weapons of executioners from the guillotine up to lethal injection.

A replica of multiple rooms in a police station takes visitors through booking, mug shots, a police line up, lie detector test and into a jail cell.

The crime fighting area commemorates the controversial FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover as well as Elliot Ness and other law enforcers while also demonstrating law enforcement equipment from past and present times.

This area hosts a police chase simulator, an FBI shooting range, and thermal imaging technology for night vision glasses.

The CSI section demonstrates forensic clues such as ballistics, autopsy and physical reconstruction techniques.

Lastly, there is a section of the museum that is the actual studio used for the taping of Americas's Most Wanted television program, whose host, John Walsh sits on the Museum Board.

The National Museum of Crime & Punishment is fully wheelchair accessible and has group rates as well as special student rates. A curriculum for schools for 5th through 12th graders is available from the museum for educators.

The nearest Metro station is at Gallery Place/Chinatown where the Red, Yellow and Green lines stop.

The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

While the Museum seeks to promote the message that crime is glorified and that it opposes this glorification it is precisely the macabre artifacts and focus on criminal activity that lend it its most interesting components.

The Museum, which opened in 2008, is one of several recently opened private museum's in D.C. that contrast with the long tradition of free national museums that are run by the Smithsonian and the national government.

"I think there's an uphill fight for a new museum opening charging that much money and presuming to attract families," said Douglas Frechtling, a tourism studies professor at George Washington University to AP.

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