New Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge Now Open: Alcatraz East

A man behind bars at the new crime museum in Pigeon Forge.

A major crime wave has hit Pigeon Forge…and we couldn’t be more excited! Alcatraz East is now open in the Smokies. Offering a behind the scenes look at the history of crime in America, this interactive museum has been eagerly anticipated all year. Visit My Smokies has the inside scoop on everything you need to know about the new crime museum in Pigeon Forge.

Even Better Than The Crime Museum in Washington, D.C.

Alcatraz East is the successor to the famous National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, D.C.  When this popular museum closed its doors in D.C., owner John Morgan decided that he wanted to open an even more ambitious attraction in Pigeon Forge.

Morgan originally came up with the idea for a crime museum during a visit to Alcatraz in San Francisco over twenty years ago, and the new attraction in Pigeon Forge reflects this inspiration. In addition to the name “Alcatraz East”, the museum’s exterior features guard towers designed to look like the Alcatraz lighthouse. As a nod to the museum’s location, the building also draws design elements from the first Tennessee State Prison, which was constructed outside of Nashville in 1898.

(See Also: 7 Must-Visit Attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg)

Interactive Exhibits and Historic Artifacts

Alcatraz East is organized according to five themes: the history of American crime, the consequences of crime, crime scene investigation, crime fighting, and pop culture. In total, the crime museum in Pigeon Forge features 28 different exhibit areas.A man being interrogated by the police in the 1930s.

Interactivity is a big part of Alcatraz East. Guests have the chance to try their hand at safe cracking, fire at targets in a simulated shooting range, visit a CSI lab, and learn about digital fingerprinting. The museum also offers a number of activities for “Junior Detectives”, including stealing jewels that are protected by a Mission Impossible-style laser grid, tracking down Black Beard’s missing gold and ruby medallions, and lessons from McGruff the Crime Dog.

In addition to all of the interactive fun, Alcatraz East host artifacts from some of the most indelible moments in American crime history and pop culture. Highlights include John Dillinger’s death mask, Bonnie and Clyde’s getaway car, Al Capone’s rosary, and  Al Pacino’s submachine gun from the movie Scarface.

Museum Features O.J. Simpson’s Ford Bronco

One of the most talked about artifacts at Alcatraz East is O.J. Simpson’s infamous white Ford Bronco. 22 years after Simpson led police on a two hour car chase across the California interstate, interest in the landmark case is experiencing a resurgence. Watch the video below from Knoxville’s WBIR to get the details on the car’s arrival in Pigeon Forge in June of 2016:

A Great Location

Alcatraz East is located at the entrance to The Island, the shopping and entertainment complex off of the Pigeon Forge Parkway. Paula Deen, whose Family Kitchen is located at The Island, told an interviewer that she loves having the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge as her new neighbor because she is “fascinated by forensic science”. Keep your eyes peeled if you visit the museum, because you may just run into Paula Deen in the CSI lab!  

A CSI forensics lab.For more information on all of the best attractions in the area, check out our complete listing of things to do in Pigeon Forge!

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by Jason Fishman

Jason Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in history, dining, travel and tourism. In his spare time, he enjoys science fiction, breakfast food and bad puns.