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Now, a museum of crime and punishment in US

There are bank robbers, mafiosi and serial killers in one hall while nearby, civilians are exploring a police forensics lab and joining in an FBI shoot-out. Read on...

world Updated: May 31, 2008 22:48 IST

There are bank robbers, mafiosi and serial killers in one hall while nearby, civilians are exploring a police forensics lab and joining in an FBI shoot-out.

Happily, it's not another ordinary day in Washington, but opening day at an extraordinary new museum in the US capital, the Museum of Crime and Punishment.

"In no way do we glorify crime. On the contrary, we give the message that crime doesn't pay and there are consequences to your actions," said the museum's co-founder John Morgan.

Included in the three-storey, 28,000-square-foot (2,600-square-metre) museum is a studio where the popular series "America's Most Wanted" -- hosted by the museum's other co-founder, John Walsh -- will be filmed.

Museum guests will be able to watch as the programme is recorded and as operators on the "America's Most Wanted" hotline take telephone and email tips about wanted felons, and hand them over to law enforcement agents.

For Walsh, the museum is the latest step in a personal crusade against crime which began 21 years ago, when his six-year-old son Adam was kidnapped from a shop in Florida and murdered.

In an interview published last month in The Washingtonian magazine, Walsh said his favorite part of the museum was "the corner for the National Centre for Missing and Exploited children, where people can learn how to make their children safer".

He also singled out "the interactive stuff," including crime scene investigation labs, safe-cracking, and high-speed chase simulators.

But Walsh stressed that the museum's aim was not to glorify crime.

"We don't show just the infamous bad guys but the heroes of law enforcement," he said.

Among the history of crime artifacts on display at the museum is the red 1933 Ford that infamous bank robber John Dillinger used as a getaway car.

The museum, in the heart of Washington, also houses the car used by Bonnie and Clyde. They were suspected of having committed 13 murders and several robberies and burglaries during a two-year crime spree in the early 1930s.