Artifacts Tell The Stories
Alcatraz East is home to some of America’s most notorious history.
While some may fain horror at the idea of killers in a museum, criminal events are a sad reality of the world we live in and should not be ignored. While they are unquestionably tragic, out of these events comes an awareness that sparks change, institutes laws, and rallies action. When John Walsh’s son Adam was kidnapped and killed there was no national database for missing persons, and laws were painfully lacking to protect children from predators. Through his son’s death John Walsh made sure thousands of others did not experience that same pain and saved countless children from a similar fate.
Sometimes when it comes to collecting historical artifacts related to crime these items are called “murderabilia.” While this sensationalized term is a more recent invention, the practice goes back much further.
Photos of Jesse James’ dead body sold at a premium across the country. When Bonnie and Clyde were killed, souvenir hunters immediately descended taking anything they could, from bits of clothing and hair, to even attempting to cut off Clyde’s trigger finger. When John Dillinger was killed spectators dipped bits of fabric in his blood and items from President Lincoln’s assassination are given relic status. Yet sometimes a painting by John Wayne Gacy or an autograph from Charles Manson are somehow not understood in the same way.
Turn on your television any night of the week and practically, on every channel, you will find a show related to crime, crime solving or the justice system. How to Get Away with Murder anyone? Discovery ID? We all have a natural curiosity and these stories feed into our deep desire to understand cause and effect.
Alcatraz East’s goal is to share the connections between events such as these and how they affected our country through one-of-a-kind objects.
Some of the most notorious and most controversial pieces on display at Alcatraz East include: