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Press Releases

  • ESP Kicks Off Holiday Season with Toy Drive Benefiting Children Impacted by Incarceration

    Philadelphia, PA (November 7, 2019) – Eastern State Penitentiary celebrates this holiday season with a toy drive benefiting local children impacted by incarceration. From November 29 through December 22, anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy or children’s book at the historic site will be granted “Buy One, Get One Free” tour admission.

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  • ESP to Break Ground on Project to Pave the Way for Future Visitor Center

    Philadelphia, PA (October 31, 2019) – At a November 14 gathering of friends, supporters, and local dignitaries, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will break ground on the first phase of construction of its planned visitor center.

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  • Public Notice Re: Visitor Center

    PUBLIC NOTICE
    Regarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review of Eastern State Penitentiary Visitor Center

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  • ESP Screens New Animated Films Created by Currently-Incarcerated Artists

    Philadelphia, PA (July 1, 2019) – Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site debuts its latest project, Hidden Lives Illuminated, on August 15, 2019.

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  • 2019 HLI Fact Sheet

    Who?

    - Presented by: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
    - Supported by: Major support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from OCF Coffee House.

    What?

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  • 2019 HLI The Films

    Week 1: The View from Inside – August 15 to August 21, 2019

    Aaron W., Where Did It Go?
    There are many twists and turns on the highway of life, but time waits for no man. “Don’t miss your exit.”

    David G., Freedom
    The filmmaker reflects on time lost and the consequences of one mistake many years ago.

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  • 2019 HLI Staff Bios

    The individuals listed here with full bios are available for interview. Please contact Nicole Frankhouser at [email protected] to arrange.

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  • 2019 About ESP

    Eastern State Penitentiary interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.

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  • 2019 Season Overview

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will debut its latest project, Hidden Lives Illuminated, on August 15, 2019. The series will feature nightly screenings of newly-commissioned, animated short films created by currently-incarcerated artists living in Pennsylvania correctional institutions.

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  • 2019 Artist Installations

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will host three new and 10 returning artist installations in 2019. The projects were chosen for their ability to address Eastern State’s primary themes—including perspectives on the contemporary American criminal justice system and the penitentiary’s fascinating past—with a memorable, thought-provoking approach.

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  • ESP Unveils New Artist Installations and Newly Restored Al Capone’s Cell

    Philadelphia, PA (April 2, 2019) – Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site announces new and updated programming for its 2019 season, kicking off Thursday, May 2, 2019. The historic site welcomes three new site-specific artist installations and unveils a newly restored Al Capone’s Cell exhibit.

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  • ESP to Commission and Screen Animated Films by Currently-Incarcerated Artists

    Philadelphia, PA (February 27, 2019) – Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will debut its latest project, Hidden Lives Illuminated, on August 15, 2019. The series will feature nightly screenings of newly-commissioned, animated short films created by currently-incarcerated artists living in Pennsylvania correctional institutions.

    Read more



  • MLK Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with three days of free community programs, Saturday, January 19 through Monday, January 21, 2019. The historic prison offers special readings of Dr.

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  • ESP Awarded $500,000 Grant to Advance Work on Criminal Justice Reform

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Art For Justice Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, to advance its work on criminal justice reform. The grant is a meaningful investment in Eastern State’s long-term vision, which includes a multistage project culminating in the construction of a state-of-the-art visitor center.

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  • PA Secretary of Corrections Joins ESP Board

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site welcomes John E. Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, to its Board of Directors. The appointment reinforces the prison museum’s increasing reputation as a national site hosting dialogue on American criminal justice reform.

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  • Holiday Toy Drive for Kids with Incarcerated Parents

    -- Visitors invited to donate toys and children’s books in exchange for “Buy One, Get One Free” admission to the historic site --

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  • Bastille Day 2018: The Farewell Tour

    This summer we, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, will bring Philadelphia its 24th and final Bastille Day celebration with a monumental farewell tour, to be held Saturday, July 14, 2018. As sad as we are to see it go, Bastille Day is extremely resource-intensive, and we have a bold new vision for our organization that requires we make some tough sacrifices.

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  • Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts Prison Food Weekend on June 2 and 3

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3. On these days, visitors can sample five states’ versions of nutraloaf, the “food product” issued as punishment in many American prisons.

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  • 2018 Season Overview

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is pleased to announce that artist collective Photo Requests from Solitary will create a new installation for the historic site’s 2018 season. This interactive exhibit will debut Friday, May 4, 2018 and will run through November 30.

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  • 2018 Artist Installations

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will host three new and 10 returning artist installations in 2018. The projects were chosen for their ability to address Eastern State’s primary themes—including perspectives on the contemporary American criminal justice system and the penitentiary’s fascinating past—with a memorable, thought-provoking approach.

    Read more



  • MLK Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with three days of free community programs, Saturday, January 13 through Monday, January 15, 2018. The historic prison offers special readings of Dr.

    Read more



  • Holiday Toy Drive for Kids with Incarcerated Parents

    -- Visitors donate toys and children’s books in exchange for “Buy One, Get One Free” admission to the historic site --

    Read more



  • Family Weekend: Pets in Prison 2017

    Philadelphia, PA (August 22, 2017) – Eastern State Penitentiary partners with New Leash on Life USA to present “Family Weekend: Pets in Prison” on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24. The event, designed for kids and adults of all ages, will feature interactive and educational activities all weekend long.

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  • Bastille Day Features Free Performance and Raining Tastykakes

    Eastern State Penitentiary is teaming up with The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, to present the French Revolution in a spectacle of song, dance, and raining Tastykakes for the penitentiary’s annual Bastille Day festival, to be held Saturday, July 15, 2017.

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  • ESPHS Awarded Pew Center Grant for Outdoor Film Series

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded a project grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to produce a series of animated films titled “Hidden Lives, Illuminated,” to debut in fall 2019.

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  • Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts Prison Food Weekend on June 3 and 4

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4. On these days visitors can sample two states’ versions of nutraloaf, the “food product” issued as punishment in many American prisons.

    Read more



  • ESPHS Wins Nation’s Highest Award in Exhibition Development and Design

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has won First Place in the prestigious Excellence in Exhibitions awards presented by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). The award goes to Eastern State’s new exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

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  • Long-Abandoned Medical Wing Opens to the Public

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site kicks off its 2017 season on Friday, May 5 with the first-ever public tours of Cellblock 3, also called the Hospital Block. Visitors have long wished to explore this space, but its severe deterioration has made touring the hospital impossible – until now.

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  • Programming Overview 2017

    Eastern State Penitentiary is open for tours every day, 12 months a year. All daytime programming (“The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, Hands-On History, artist installations, and exhibits) is included in one admission price.

     

    Hours and Information:

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  • Special Event Highlights 2017

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site hosts many special events throughout the year. 2017 highlights are outlined below. For a full schedule, visit www.EasternState.org/events.

    The Searchlight Series
    First Tuesday of Every Month, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Free

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  • Artist Installations 2017

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will host three new and 11 returning artist installations in 2017. The projects were chosen for their ability to address Eastern State’s primary themes—including perspectives on the contemporary American criminal justice system and the penitentiary’s fascinating past—with a memorable, thought-provoking approach.

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  • By the Numbers 2017

    Opened:    1829

    Closed:     1971

    Years of Active Use:     142

    Architect:     John Haviland (1792-1852)

    Initial Expense:     $770,000  (believed to be second only to the U.S. Capitol in expense of an American building to date)

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  • Criminal Justice Policy and the New Administration

    As the United States transitions into a new presidential administration, we continue to urge policymakers to study recent criminal justice successes when developing federal policy.

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Press Contacts

Nicole Frankhouser

Director of Marketing and Communications
[email protected]

Ellen Feist

Marketing and Communications Strategist
[email protected]
2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner