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“Top-notch, very comprehensive, allow several hours to visit.”

National Museum of Crime & Punishment
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Top-notch, very comprehensive, allow several hours to visit.”
Reviewed 7 May 2009

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.

3 Thank whitneywh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

925 reviews from our community

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English first
Milton Keynes,UK
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Fantastic! Very enjoyable & not busy!”
Reviewed 19 April 2009

Visited this museum on Easter Sunday
We had a voucher to get a couple of $ off so we thought we would try it.
We found it to be very very interesting; from torture & old types of crime, to infamous villains, to processing, evidence, prisons. executions etc
We spent over 4 hrs in here. We were not rushed and had time to take in & enjoy.
I would highly recoomend this for a visit!

1 Thank helenf01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
D.C. metro area
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Spent an enjoyable several hours here...”
Reviewed 23 February 2009

I would have spent even longer but my feet hurt - they need to add more benches. People who watch crime shows will find the very last part the most interesting, I think.

1 Thank swissmiss150
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington, DC
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Enjoyable museum visit”
Reviewed 17 February 2009

We spent about 4 hours going through the museum. We really enjoyed it. However, we noticed several errors in punctuation on some of the placards and wrong abbreviations for Mississippi and Arkansas on a map. Also they had George Bush signing the Amber alert in Oct. 2000 and he didn't start his office till 2001. Other than the mistakes it was very interesting and I would go back and will tell friends about it.

1 Thank Tabp1996
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Philadelphia, PA
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Just o.k.”
Reviewed 17 February 2009

We went enthusiastically to check out this new museum but were very disappointed. Although, the exhibit started out promising with clever crowd control bars made of cufflinks and an exhibit of police badges from across the country, it soon went downhill. Overall I would say there is too much emphasis on the sensationalized crime - serial killers, mobsters, medieval torture devices,etc. There was one small area covering white collar crime and nothing on art theft or forgery, just a passing mention of internet crime. Both my husband and I found it very depressing from a subject content since there was a lot on crime and not too much on how to stop crime, with the exception of a room dedicated to "America's Most Wanted" (which the exhibit was not working at the time). I would also add a caution to those who go with younger children (9 and below)... we were worried that the subject matter was too grim for our 9 yr old son. ("Mommy, what is a serial killer"? - not a conversation you want to have.)
We were also surprised that there was very little emphasis on all the men and women who dedicate their lives to fighting crime. They have one token uniform hanging with a sign that says something like "dedicated to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty".
In addition, subjects were not covered in depth or to highlight little know but interesting facts. I contrast this with the Spy Museum, which shows little known facts, like how even Julius Ceasar used some espionage in his day.
From a physical plant point, the museum does not have a very good air handling system and it very stuffy in the building and we all went home with headaches.
In summary, while the museum is not awful it is not great either. With all the other museums in D.C., these guys will have to work a lot harder to keep up with their high quality neighbors if they want to stay in business.

Thank MerionSta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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