Sunday, December 11, 2011

#68 Visiting New Museums: The National Museum of Crime and Punishment

One of the many things I love about Day Zero Project list is how it pushes me to do a lot of things that I've been wanting to do for awhile but just haven't "gotten around to." A big one for me was going to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, which I've been wanting to visit ever since they started advertising for it a couple of years ago. Yesterday Katieschmatie, our husbands and I took a double date to the museum, thanks to a great deal we got on LivingSocial.

The first part of our visit was to the CSI Crime Lab, a special little extra that the museum offers for an additional fee, where you get to go through evidence and try to solve a crime. It was a surprising amount of fun. We checked alibis and phone records, analyzed handwriting samples, compared fibers found on the victims and the suspects, our husbands volunteered to be lab technicians who tested different possible weapons and the kinds of blood spatter patterns they made:
We learned how to dust for fingerprints,
and (because we're super awesome, smart detectives) we were completely right about whodunnit!

After the fun in the CSI lab we headed out to explore the rest of the museum, which was just as interactive and interesting! In fact, the amount of interactivity was one of my favorite parts of this museum; there was plenty to read and see but there was even more than you could get your hands on, explore, and try for yourself.

The  Medieval exhibit was definitely the creepiest, with lots of morbid reading about the heinous tortures that people had inflicted on them, like this head cage which was used to hold people in place as they were branded or having their eyeballs taken out:

The gentler version was used by husbands on their quarrelsome wives, as it had attachments which could effectively gag a person. This wasn't even the worst or most horrific of the instruments of torture, used for punishment, in the Medieval section. The apparatuses on display here were so awful that there were no hands on exhibits, because you really would not have any fun with it.

When we reached Colonial times there were, of course, the stocks:

I found out that the stocks were not the gentle punishment I'd always thought - sure it was an uncomfortable position and people threw rotten fruit and vegetables at you, but life could be worse right? Just uncomfortable and humiliating, right? WRONG. They used to nail people's ears to either side of the head part, so that you couldn't dodge the rotten fruits and vegetables, and if you did dodge them you risked pulling your own ears off. Of course, even if you managed to get through the day without pulling your own ears off, they couldn't exactly take the nails out, so they just off your ears to get you out. EEK!

In the Wild West exhibit I went to jail (Yay jail! No more stocks for me!):

Katieschmatie and her hubby tried their hands at shooting guns from the Old West (They're probably the law-abiding sheriffs that put me in jail! Grrr...):
and in between in all we learned a lot about, not just the criminals and the crimes they perpetrated, but why they may have perpetrated them and the men who enforced the law and eventually caught them. Seriously, lots of education in between the playing around =)

We went through a lot of exhibits about the different time periods of crime, from the mafia to internet hackers. The serial killers, of course, had their own creep-tastic section. We got to see everything from the car Bonnie & Clyde died in (with bloodstains) to a lock of John Dillinger's hair, cut off by the mortician. Another fun section were the accounts of some of the dumbest criminals ever to perpetrate a crime. I could post tons of pictures, but you should really go see it for yourself.

The last part of the museum was about law enforcement, and this had some of the coolest interactive sections, in my opinion.

There was the jail cell that I got to break out of:

Through the hole in the wall and a tunnel and out into the next room of the museum!:
(Hubby and I escaped together).

Then I became a respectable enforcer of the law on my super sweet Harley Davidson cop-motorcycle:

But the coolest part came right after that, where you could go through "training" simulations. There was a driving course, which included screens to show you what was happening to the left and right of you - and you better pay attention or risk getting t-boned as your patrol car screams through an intersection!:
And a simulation where a video took you through various scenarios that had bad guys and innocents and your job was to shoot the bad guys:

It wasn't at all like a video game since it had real actors in the video, which was kind of shocking to me the first time I saw one of the bad guys "killed."

And then there was a section where you can see if you'd pass the test to get onto the police force:
In case you can't tell from the picture, I will give you a hint... Katieschmatie and I definitely would not have passed. =) But we had a lot of fun trying!

This was my favorite museum that I've visited. Even the Spy Museum didn't get this hands on. All the information was presented in a fun and exciting way and I learned a lot even though I felt like I was playing most of the time.

One downer... don't go in hungry or thirsty. There's no snack station and you won't want to have to cut your visit short because you're starving!


  1. The Stocks:
    this was really cool! my mother asked me a question about medieval times restraining devices. at first i thought it was called the rack but knew that wasn't correct so i check out the web and found your site, and ya know what i actually learned some things i didn't know. im kind of a know it all, more accurately a jack of all trades so to speak. so its important to me that my information is accurate, and it can be a bit of a challenge for me to learn something new on a subject i have already studied. As i am meticulously thorough and check with several sources, not just the internet. i was interested in one aspect of your article but read the whole thing. i loved the way in which you presented it. it was like being there with you, and i had fun! my only critique is you left me wanting more. lol thank you, i look forward to reading more!

    P.S. the part i didn't know was about the ears being nailed. the devil is in the details as they say.