Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Postcards From Washington D.C. - Crime Museum

At about $20 per person, the Crime Museum was one of the most expensive things we did during our recent vacation in Washington, D.C.  This fascinating museum is a local favorite and features five distinct galleries with over 500 amazing artifacts, all related to the history of crime, law enforcement, and forensic science.

We entered the first of the five galleries, "A Notorious History of American Crime," and were surrounded with replicas of many Wanted posters from crimes down through the ages.  It was the first time of many that I'd be saying to myself in this museum, "There are certainly a lot of bad guys," as I passed through the various exhibits.

One of the exhibits in that first gallery depicted various crimes and their associated methods of punishments back in the Dark Ages.

There we examined horrible models, replicas, and excavated instruments of punishment, including methods and equipment used to induce psychological terror in some criminals.

Some of the earliest punishable crimes just seem so silly now.

One whole area in the history gallery considered the crimes of various notorious pirates and pirate groups.  An exhibit featured the famous pirate, Blackbeard.

So many movies have been made that glamorize criminals and heists of all sorts.  This automobile was used in various crime themed movies, including the well known movie "Bonnie and Clyde." 

If there's one crime that sparks terror within me more than any other, it's the crime of kidnapping.  One whole room was devoted to kidnapping, and various kidnappings that remain unsolved to this day.

In the second of the five major galleries, "Punishment:  The Consequence of Crime," we saw how criminals carry out their sentences and the various ways that criminals on death row are executed.  

A replica of an Alcatraz prison cell was there, along with a prisoner's potential escape route from that cell.  

The criminal is escaping!
Another cell was set up exactly as it was when Al Capone resided in it at Eastern State Penitentiary.

An entire room in the Punishment gallery was devoted to the issue of capital punishment, and included various devices and information on the different methods that have been used to execute prisoners.  

Gas chamber execution
"Old Smokey" - electric chair execution
The third major gallery, "Crime Fighting," had a number of educational, yet amusing, stations.  This machine took our fingerprint and printed it onto a card indicating our crime and booking numbers.  As you can see, on that day my husband was arrested for petty thievery.

And here's the husband/lover/criminal taking his place in the criminal line up.  (I don't think he feels guilty for what he did.)

Frankly, by this time, after spending several hours looking at every conceivable type of crime and criminal, I was feeling overwhelmed.  I pondered over the horrendous abundance of evil in our world, and so, we passed through the remaining two major galleries fairly quickly.  

In the "Crime Scene Investigation" gallery, we viewed a crime scene and tried to gather clues as to what really happened there and who was responsible.  Very similar to the CSI television shows, my husband (remember, the former criminal) was in his heyday.  I think he knew what probably happened before he even looked at clue #2.  

After studying the clues and formulating our theories, we visited the autopsy room to examine the victim's wounds.  There's an abundance of details that are accumulated in the business of solving a crime.  

The fifth and final major gallery, "Counterfeit Crimes:  Are you Part of the Black Market?" presented the issues in a multi-media format.  Frankly, this part of the museum left us with a lot to mull over.  In this area, there was even a display that showed you how to determine if that Coach purse you bought is genuine, or if your beloved Ugg boots are the real deal.

The Crime Museum is another one of the off-the-beaten-track places that most casual visitors to the D.C. area do not visit.  However, we would put this one high on our list of recommended places to see.

Next:  Lincoln's Cottage 
           Ford Theater and Museum
           Peterson House


  1. I bet that was a very interesting place to visit. A little different than what one would think of when asked what is in museums.

  2. I would sooo love this place. I was fascinated by the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. If (and that's a big if) we ever get back to DC that will definitely be one place I visit.