I love it when things come together. Today, I spent the day at the Eastern State Penitentiary.
I'm currently working on a presentation/hypertet for the WWW@10 Conference at Rose-Hulman. My argument is that developments in museum science, creative/literary nonfiction, and documentary practice combine with recent technology to make really cool online historical narrative possible.
The Eastern State Penitentiary is an excellent example of the kind of place that really makes museums fun.
It's the only place I know that asks you to sign a liability waiver before you walk in. No wonder -- it's falling apart.
Along the way, you hear a really good narration combined with first-hand accounts from the guards and ex-prisoners of this maximum security prison. The narration is very good, including background music and sound effects. It was created by people who really understand audio acting -- not just a bunch of boring scholars.
Although Al Capone's voice wasn't on the handheld mp3 player, he was an inmate in the prison for 8 months. Unlike the other prisoners, Capone was allowed many comforts of home -- a radio, writing desk, electric lamp, and even wall paintings. The other prisoners in solitary confinement, sitting in their bare, maddening cells, could occasionally hear snatches of a waltz coming from his cell.
The museum also encourages art installations. Here is a photo of Juxtapositions.
This place is amazing -- when Charles Dickens came to Philadelphia, he came so he could see this place. You should do the same.