Eastern State members receive invitations to exclusive, members-only experiences. Curious about what these experiences look like? Here's a selection of past events.
To view upcoming member events, click here.
Member Nights: 30 Years of Halloween | A Q&A for Members
(In-Person, October 2021)
Celebrate 30 years of Halloween at Eastern State Penitentiary. Discover the origins of our Halloween fundraiser, listen to stories of legendary past attractions, and talk to the creative team behind Halloween Nights about their experiences designing the premier fall attraction in Philadelphia.
Member Nights: Calling Eastern State Home
(In-Person, August 2021)
Discover the history of Eastern State’s administrative building. Explore spaces designed for the men and women who were employed by the world’s first true penitentiary and learn about our plan to create a visitor center in this area.
Member Saturday: Providing a New Leash on Life
(Virtual, August 2021)
Director of Community Outreach, Kyrie Palan, and program participant Meghan will discuss the power dynamics of the human-animal bond, and how New Leash on Life USA utilizes this relationship as an animal-assisted therapy technique to teach incarcerated people practical and social emotional skills.
Member Nights: Twilight Photography Hour
(In-Person, July 2021)
Capture the eerie beauty of Eastern State during a twilight photography hour. Bring your tripod! Get exclusive access to the magnificent details of Cellblock 7 and its adjacent courtyard as the sun sets behind the penitentiary’s perimeter wall.
Member Saturday: Lying, Plea Bargaining, and Justice
(Virtual, July 2021)
Join us for a thoughtful conversation on the surprising and sometimes troubling role that plea bargaining now plays within our criminal justice system. Led by Thea Johnson, a professor of law at Rutgers Law School, we will use real world examples to explore how and why lying has become a central part of the plea bargaining process and what that means for broader questions of justice.
Member Nights: Escaped!
(In-Person, June 2021)
Uncover the details of Eastern State’s infamous 1945 tunnel escape. Explore the hidden mysteries of the Cellblock 7 Courtyard and learn about archeological evidence unearthed at the historic site.
Member Saturday: Sketch Eastern State
(Virtual, June 2021)
Eastern State’s iconic imagery has inspired artists for centuries. Photographers, painters, and sketch artists alike have used their medium of choice to capture their unique perspective of the penitentiary’s eerie beauty. Now, try your hand at drawing Eastern State’s cathedral-like, barrel-vaulted cellblocks with guidance and tips from local artist Dominique Barlow. No prior art or sketching experience necessary.
Member Saturday: True Crime | Sensational or Empowering?
(Virtual, May 2021)
Join two true crime enthusiasts and Eastern State staff members -- Kelly Otterson, Manager, Site Operations, and Samantha Hunter, Senior Specialist, School and Youth Programs -- to explore the good and the bad of this cultural phenomenon.
Member Saturday: Eastern State Adapts for Climate Change
(Virtual, April 2021)
Learn more about our new stormwater basins, built during the first phase of construction on our new visitor center, and get a look at long-range planning strategies for future stormwater management projects at Eastern State.
Member Saturday: Law & Order | Reality, Not TV
(Virtual, March 2021)
Professor Adnan Zulfiqar, Rutgers Law, will explore the key questions our courts try to answer when balancing our personal liberties with public safety and examine how these inquiries relate to the most fundamental challenges our legal system faces.
Members-Only Behind-the-Scenes Tours
(In-Person, February 2021)
Ever wonder which special spaces and stories most inspire our educators? Now is your chance to find out, and also get to know Connor Feeney, our new Membership Specialist! Connor will lead two in-person, members-only tours of the penitentiary before the site reopens to the public in March.
Member Saturday: Past & Present | Women and Incarceration
(Virtual, February 2021)
Join Lauren Zalut, Director of Education and Tour Programs, Damon McCool, Public Programming Specialist, and special guest Reverend Doctor Michelle Simmons, founder and CEO of Why Not Prosper. First, learn more about some of the nearly 1,000 women incarcerated at Eastern State. Then, consider the ongoing impact of incarceration on women today, including exceptional challenges as a result of COVID-19.
Member Saturday: Black Liberation Today | Race, Resistance, and the Carceral State
(Virtual, January 2021)
Nina Johnson, Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College, will lead a conversation about current movements – across the nation and globe – to end state sponsored racial violence and white supremacy.