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17 Feb 2020

Educational museum for infamous Sing Sing prison gains development funding
BY Andy Knaggs

Warden Thomas Mott Osborne (right) was one of Sing Sing's most noted wardens, cracking down on prisoners who had bribed officers and intimidated other inmates

Warden Thomas Mott Osborne (right) was one of Sing Sing's most noted wardens, cracking down on prisoners who had bribed officers and intimidated other inmates
photo: Shutterstock

A proposed museum based on the site of New York's notorious Sing Sing Correctional Facility has received key funding grants from corporate and national institutions, bringing its non-state funding to more than US$1m (€920,000, £770,000).

The maximum-security prison opened in 1825 and holds around 1,700 inmates. The Sing Sing Prison Museum (SSPM) will be located in two buildings: the former prison powerhouse, which is located outside of the facility; and the historic original cell block, which is within the prison walls.

SSPM plans to tell the compelling story of 200 years of incarceration at the prison, and challenge visitors to reflect on the nature and development of the USA's criminal justice system.

The latest grants are for US$150,000 (€138,000, £115,000) from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to help create a master narrative and interpretive framework in partnership with Columbia University's Center for Justice and Pace University's Center for Research and Community Action; and US$30,000 (€28,000, £23,000) from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct a national collections survey of artefacts, manuscripts, photographs and public records, which will inform the development of the master narrative and framework.

"We're delighted and honoured by these grants and are grateful these organisations recognise the importance of our mission, which is to inspire, inform and reflect on the history of punishment and rehabilitation in the American penal system through the perspective of Sing Sing Prison," said Brent Glass, interim executive director of SSPM.

Further funding has come from private contributions, from Westchester County and more than US$3m (€2.8m, £2.3m) from the state of New York.

Projected to attract 130,000 visitors per year, the first phase of the museum ‒ a preview centre in a portion of the powerhouse ‒ is scheduled to open in late 2020. The full museum will open in 2025, which is the 200th anniversary of the original cell block.

For more on the Sing Sing Prison Museum, check out the Q1 2020 edition of Attractions Management, available soon.



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