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Top 8 Famous Crime Museums in the World

Not all museums in the world are dedicated to fine art conceived by endless human creativity. Some focus solely on the darker side of human beings.

There’s nothing glorious about a demented serial killer or an unscrupulous gangster. Even though their actions freak us out, they somehow intrigue us as well.

That’s why crime museums have been established all around the world, and in this post, you’ll discover some of the most popular ones you can visit.

1. Alcatraz East in Tennessee

Even though the name references the infamous Alcatraz Island near San Francisco, it’s a crime museum located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It only opened in the year 2016 but was previously operated as the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. which is now closed.

Regardless, the museum consists of two floors and 24,000 square feet (2,229 square meters) and is designed like a 19th-century prison. This way it resembles the prison it was named after and that once was the home of some of America’s most infamous criminals.

Some of the most famous items on public display are Ted Bundy’s Volkswagen Beetle, Al Capone’s rosary, John Dillinger’s car, and O.J. Simpson’s Ford Bronco which was used during his murder case. John Wayne Gacy’s clown costume can be found here as well.

Alcatraz East in Tennessee
Ted Bundy’s Car / Greyloch /

2. Jack the Ripper Museum in London

The case of Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous mysteries in modern history. It has puzzled criminal investigators for numerous decades and remains unsolved until today.

The 1888 crime spree of this unidentified killer in London has intrigued so many people that a museum dedicated to these crimes has been established in London.

The museum recreates the setting in the Whitechapel neighborhood of London’s impoverished East End in the late 19th-century. The main focus of the museum is the recreation of the crime scenes and the setting the police had to work in at the time.

Jack the Ripper Museum in London
Jack the Ripper Museum / Mike Prior /

3. Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg

Art-Facts Youtube Channel

The Middle Ages wasn’t a period in time in which the standard of living was at its highest level. This pretty much reflected in the way medieval criminal justice was carried out.

To fully understand the way criminals or people accused of crimes were treated during this period in history, you must visit the Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a medieval town in southern Germany.

The museum is filled with a wide variety of torture devices ranging from iron gossip masks to horrendous breast rippers. Many of these devices left permanent damage to the people it was used against, pretty chilling!

Inside the Medieval Crime Museum

4. Villisca Axe Murder House

What happens to a house in which 8 people are bludgeoned to death in their sleep by a perpetrator who remains unidentified until today? It becomes a popular crime museum for curious explorers!

This is pretty much the description of the Villisca Axe Murder House, a horrific crime scene that was turned into a museum in Iowa. This crime remains unsolved until today, even though it took place on the night of June 9 and 10, 1912.

The official name of the house is the “Josiah B. and Sara Moore House” about the family who was murdered here. It was completely renovated in the 1990s and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Villisca Axe Murder House
Villisca Axe Murder House / Jason McLaren /

5. Mob Museum in Las Vegas

The Mob Museum is officially known as the “National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement” and is located in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. The museum is housed in the former Las Vegas Post Office and Courthouse.

As the name suggests, the museum features items related to organized crime in Las Vegas and all across the United States. What’s remarkable is that its main focus is the relationship between the mob and law enforcement.

Some of the most notable exhibits are the “Wall of Mobsters” and the brick wall against which the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” took place in Chicago in 1929. The second-floor courtroom was once used for the national Kefauver Committee in the 1950s.

Mob Museum Las Vegas
The Mob Museum / Ken Lund /

6. Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield

The Ohio State Reformatory is a historic prison located in Mansfield, Ohio. It became world-famous because of the best-rated movie in history (according to IMDB) called “The Shawshank Redemption” which was released in 1994.

The building was completed between 1886 and 1910 and was in operation until the year 1990. After its closure, it was used for a wide variety of films, music videos, and TV shows.

Today, the prison mainly serves as a tourist attraction in which visitors can go on a tour around the facility. It allows you to get a clear view of how the experience of prison was for people housed here.

Ohio State Reformatory
Ohio State Reformatory / Niagara66 /

7. Crime Museum London

The Crime Museum in London is housed at the headquarters of Scotland Yard on the Victoria Embarkment. It holds an amazing collection of artifacts related to some of the most heinous crimes in history.

The museum is situated in the basement of the Curtis Green Building at “New Scotland Yard.” Even though the museum is closed to the public and can only be accessed by police officers and guests, some items are sometimes displayed in other museums.

Apart from nooses used during executions and death masks worn by executed criminals, it also holds some special items related to crimes, including the “From Hell” letters, presumably sent to the police by Jack the Ripper himself!

Jack the Ripper’s “From Hell” letter / Wiki Commons

8. Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney

The Hyde Park Barracks is a building that was originally constructed as a prison for people sent to the penal colony in Sydney, Australia, in the early 19th century. Throughout its history, it has been used for a wide variety of purposes, including a hospital, mint, and courthouse.

Today, the building serves as a museum and is operated by the Sydney Living Museums, an agency managed by the local government of New South Wales.

The barracks give us a clear insight as to how life was for convicts sent here during this time in history. It was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site as one of the 11 pre-eminent Australian Convict Sites.

Hyde Park Barracks Facts
Hyde Park Barracks / J Bar /