This museum is mind-blowing. Very comprehensive and lengthy, so if you really want your money's worth, allow several hours to visit it. I actually spent 6 hours there, which would be too much for many people, but it was just that fascinating.
It covers Medieval punishment devices, Old West outlaws, Mafia family crimes, a lot of info about infamous American serial killers and mass murderers, including one-of-a-kind original letters, fingerprints, artwork etc by Gacy, Manson, etc. Very powerful.
This WOULD NOT be a place to take a child. Some very disturbing things such as a real electric chair (used in Tennessee), a real gas chamber, lots of info on death penalty devices, a prison cell, etc.
Was really interesting to learn about our nation's most historic prisons like Leavenworth, Alcatraz, etc. And learning about the polygraph test was cool too.
The area with the CSI Crime lab is really neat, and seeing the actual set of America's Most Wanted is cool too, but by the time anyone gets that far (toward the end) of the museum your feet are in pain and you're ready to leave. So the crowd (which there really wasn't one, but I went on a weekday) really thins out.
One good aspect is this is a museum adults can enjoy without the loud, raucous, annoying presence of hundreds of school kids on a field trip because the subject matter is what it is. So if adults travelers want a museum that you can actually enjoy in peace, here it is. That may also be because this is a museum with paid admission rather than a free Smithsonian museum.
Also was fun doing the gun-shooting simulation in the police area, you use a real gun that shoots virtually at a screen with criminals.
Only complaints are that there is almost nowhere to sit down and rest your legs in the museum, and restrooms are hard to find, you have to wind through a lot of exhibits to get to them.
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