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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum at The Island in Pigeon Forge TN.
January 18, 2024

If you’re a fan of true crime stories, you need to visit the Alcatraz East Crime Museum on your vacation! This one-of-a-kind museum in Pigeon Forge TN is dedicated to the history of crime and crime fighting in America. Guests at this Alcatraz museum will have the chance to explore a number of interactive exhibits and see rare artifacts that belonged to some of the nation’s most notorious criminals. Here are the top 5 things you didn’t know about the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge:

1. It Began as a D.C. Museum

Alcatraz East is the successor to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, which was located in Washington D.C. Established in 2008, this popular museum once served as the studio for the TV show America’s Most Wanted. When the National Museum of Crime & Punishment closed in 2015, its owner John Morgan decided to open an even more ambitious attraction in Pigeon Forge.

2. Its Design is Based on Two Famous Prisons

Alcatraz East Prison in San Francisco

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge boasts a unique design that is inspired by two iconic prisons. As you may have guessed, the museum is named after the notorious Alcatraz Island prison in San Francisco Bay and features guard towers that are reminiscent of the Alcatraz lighthouse. In fact, it was a visit to Alcatraz around 20 years ago that inspired John Morgan to start a crime museum. The Alcatraz East building also draws design elements from the first Tennessee State Prison, which was built outside of Nashville in 1898.

3. It is Home to the Ford Bronco from O.J. Simpson’s Car Chase

The most famous artifact at Alcatraz East is definitely the white Ford Bronco from the O.J. Simpson case. This vehicle was involved in an infamous low-speed car chase in 1994 when Simpson failed to turn himself in to the police after being named a person of interest in a murder case. An estimated 95 million people watched the car chase live on TV. O.J. Simpson’s former agent Mike Gilbert has said that “after the limo that JFK was shot in, this is the second-most-viewed car in American history.”

4. There is a Real Surveillance Van at the Museum

A camera and a laptop in a surveillance van at Alcatraz East Crime Museum

A highlight of Alcatraz East’s collection is a genuine undercover surveillance van that was used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a Georgia police department. For several years, the van played a vital role in active criminal investigations, including drug crimes and burglary stakeouts. When you visit Alcatraz East, you’ll have the chance to venture inside the surveillance van and check out the equipment used to monitor suspects.

5. Variety of Artifacts on Display

While the Alcatraz East Crime Museum rotates exciting temporary exhibits throughout the year, there is a variety of permanent artifacts on display throughout the attraction. Visitors can see Ted Bundy’s famous Volkswagen Bug, Al Capone’s Rosary, Al Pacino’s machine gun from Scarface and more. You can also explore exhibits on 9/11, tragic school shootings and serial killers. If you find the history of crime fascinating and love learning more about the famous crimes in America, then you have to come see the artifacts in the Alcatraz Museum!

More About the Alcatraz East Crime Museum

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at The Island in Pigeon Forge and allows visitors to explore American history from a different perspective. Its five unique galleries dive into criminal profiles, the penal system, victims’ stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement, and the justice system. The Alcatraz Museum wants to offer something that the whole family can enjoy, which is why they have exhibits for the junior detectives too! Kids will love trying to break into a locked safe, computer interactives, and getting up close with McGruff the Crime Dog! You will love this unique opportunity to learn more about American crime history in this museum.

Other Fun Museums Near Alcatraz East in Pigeon Forge

Alcatraz East Crime Museum provides visitors with tons of fun, but it’s not the only museum in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg you should visit! From famous cars to interesting artifacts, you’ll find all kinds of cool collectors items at these attractions. Here are some other museums in the Smoky Mountains you should check out after you visit the Alcatraz Museum!

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