Finding Crime Museum in Washington, D.C. a Pleasant Surprise

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A visit to Washington, D.C. can be a little overwhelming for a first time visitor. There is so much to see and do that it’s impossible to experience it all in one day. Most tourists make an effort to see the White House, U.S. Capitol, Smithsonian Museum, landmarks, and a number of memorials.

The most common landmarks and memorials include:

  • Washington Monument – This 555 foot structure honors George Washington, the first U.S. Presidents who also led the Continental Army to victory.
  • National Mall – A national park between the Lincoln Memorial and United States Capitol.
  • Arlington National Cemetery – A military cemetery.
  • Lincoln Memorial – This memorial honors Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. It’s located on the National Mall across from the Washington Monument.
  • Jefferson Memorial – This memorial is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States.
  • The Marine Corps War Memorial/ Iwo Jima Memorial – This is a military memorial statue that sits right outside the walls of the Arlington National Cemetery. It honors all members of the United States Marine Corps who have fallen in the defense of their country since 1775.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial – This memorial is located southwest of the National Mall. It honors the biggest contributor to civil rights and it commemorates the year when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.

This is a very short list of some must-see sites in the area. Bike and Segway tours can take you to other destinations within a relatively short period of time so you experience as much as possible.

If you plan on visiting Washington, D.C. and wish to enjoy everything the area has to offer, make it a three to five day trip. This will give you enough time to take in all the great tourist attractions and even some lessor known activities like the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

national museum of crime and punishment

Photo credit: Chris Kelly

What Does the Crime Museum Offer?

This museum is dedicated to the history of American criminology. Anyone who enjoys watching the television series CSI will love this place. The museum covers 28,000 square feet of space and displays more than 700 artifacts that relate to crime and much of America’s most popular criminals.

Upon entrance to the museum visitors find themselves in the middle of a staged crime scene investigation involving a murder. All visitors are educated about the process of solving a murder case through forensic analysis, blood samples, finger printing and even dental reconstruction.

The museum offers visitors a behind the scenes look at a police station that includes a booking room for criminals, mug shots, a lie detector test, and self-made devices that real life inmates use as weapons and as a way to escape.

Part of the tour also includes a look at America’s Most Wanted studio. Other parts of the crime museum showcase a mock gas chamber, a lethal injection machine, and even an electric chair that was used in Nashville, Tennessee for 125 executions.

Must See Exhibits

The museum has more than 25 interactive stations open for visitor participation. Some of the most popular exhibits include:

CSI Lab – The museum invites you to interact and solve a realistic crime scene.

national museum of crime and punishment

Photo credit: Marcin Wichary

High Speed Police Chase Simulator – These simulators are used in the training of law enforcement officers and it gives participants the experience of being in a real life pursuit.

national museum of crime and punishment

Photo credit: Chris Kelly

Firearms Training Simulator – You can practice your aim in a simulated FBI shooting range.

Digital Fingerprinting – This interactive let’s children have printout ID cards with their fingerprints.

The museum also offers an inside look into some of the most legendary mobsters, gangsters, outlaws and pirates. A collection of prison art is definitely worth seeing and jail cells allow you to feel like you’re in a real prison.

For those interested in learning more about crime investigation the museum offers several instructional workshops throughout the year. They’re appropriate for all ages except for the body decomposition and pathology workshop, which is acceptable for children ages 13 and up. Other workshops cover topics like:

  • Anthropology – Identifying skeletonized human remains
  • Arson – Developing conclusions about the nature of fires and cause of death
  • Blood and DNA – Crime-solving techniques involving blood stains
  • Crime Scene Investigation – Discusses common misconceptions about forensic science
  • Forensics – Allows you to become a forensic scientist for a day
  • Fingerprints – Studies impressions left on objects in a crime scene
  • Firearms – Covers the physics of firearms such as the motion and trajectory of a bullet

Ticket prices for the museum are affordable with adult tickets costing about $22 and children tickets costing about $15, depending on the age.

TravelersPress.com is a blog for anyone who loves to travel and see the world.

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