PIGOEN FORGE - Alcatraz was a notorious maximum security federal prison on an island in San Francisco Bay. It closed down more than 50 years ago and is now a popular tourist destination. A visit to the infamous site inspired the creation of a new attraction in Pigeon Forge that opened last month.
Do you think you can crack a safe? It's one of more than 100 interactive features at Alcatraz East Crime Museum.
"This is a subject people love to talk about and love to learn about," said Summer Wilson with Alcatraz East.
She said visitors learn about crime in five different themed galleries, starting with a walk through American history from the Salem Witch Trials to the wild west to serial killers.
You'll see a re-creation of one of Al Capone's jail cells. The gangster lived in luxury behind bars compared to the modern version.
John Dillinger's death mask is displayed behind glass.
The exhibits are family friendly, so you won't see blood and gore. The museum even hides some of serial killer John Wayne Gacy's outfits behind a wall to protect any visitors who have a fear of clowns.
"Crime is something that unfortunately people really enjoy. You can't turn on the TV nowadays without seeing some sort of crime show," Wilson said.
Or seeing some sort of real crime.
Accused killer OJ Simpson was a passenger in a white Bronco that is now housed at Alcatraz East.
"We have the actual Bronco that was used in the chase. That's something we all remember watching on TV. So to see it in person is really popular," Wilson said. "We have Bonnie and Clyde's car. We have John Dillinger's car and then we have Ted Bundy's Volkswagon Beetle. People love to check it out because it is neat stuff."
Visitors have the opportunity to be part of a most wanted poster and three chances to be behind bars. It's part of showing the consequences of crime.
"We're not here to glorify crime. People are interested in it so we want to show them artifacts and teach them about different crimes, but we also want them to know that there are consequences for your action, and that's why we have our consequences of crime and our crime fighting section in the museum," Wilson said.
This crime scene investigation section showcases the work of Knoxville's Dr. William Bass of Body Farm fame.
Another Tennessee touch is a moonshine-making display.
Visitors can touch, read and take some photos.
"There are so many photo props throughout here you are seeing selfies left and right. But that's what we like. We think it's fun," Wilson said.
Fun with a message: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.
Allow two-to-three hours to explore the museum, but of course you can stay as long as you like. The museum is open every single day of the year.
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