Events

Friday, September 11, 2015 - 8:00pm

Secret Cinema: "Outside the Wall"

Outside the Wall
General Admission: $10

The Secret Cinema is thrilled to announce that they have received a rare 16mm print of this locally-shot feature from overseas, and will present it at Eastern State Penitentiary -- the same spot where scenes were filmed 66 years earlier -- on Friday, September 11. This will be a fitting choice for Secret Cinema's 15th presentation at ESP.

Doors open at 7:00 pm. Seats are limited. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Sunday, September 13, 2015 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm

ESP Insider: Preview New Tour, "The Power of Music"

Free. Members only.

Members will explore the musical history of Eastern State before the tour is available to the public. An expert tour guide will reveal a fascinating chronicle of musical programming behind the walls.

Enjoy light refreshments and extended conversation after the tour.

One tour will be offered. Free for members and the number of guests included with membership. $16 per additional guest. Reservations required.

Friday, September 18, 2015 - 7:00pm - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 7:00pm

Terror Behind the Walls

Select Nights
Tickets starting at $13

Terror Behind the Walls, America’s largest haunted house, is called “perfect for Halloween” by The New York Times, named #1 in the nation by Forbes, and featured on NBC’s TODAY Show. Terror Behind the Walls takes place inside the massive, castle-like walls of Eastern State Penitentiary and is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in America.

All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark. Terror Behind the Walls does not affect operation of the historic site, which remains open for tours every day from 10 am to 5 pm.

For FAQs, preview videos, and tickets, visit terrorbehindthewalls.com

Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 10:00am - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 8:00pm

Extended Museum Hours and Special Access to Catholic Chaplain’s Murals

Standard Admission

In celebration of the World Meeting of Families, Eastern State Penitentiary opens its massive front gates for extended hours and special programs, September 20-24. In addition to learning about Eastern State’s religious roots and its worldwide influence on corrections, visitors will have unlimited access to the newly restored murals of the Catholic Chaplain’s Office.

Inmate Lester Smith painted the murals in 1955 and used the signature “Paul Martin” to honor his two favorite saints. Smith was a self-taught artist who had converted to Catholicism in prison. When Father Edwin Gallagher, the penitentiary’s Catholic Chaplain (1952-1958), witnessed Smith painting in his cell, he invited the inmate to decorate the offices where he met with and counseled inmates. These remarkable and extremely fragile paintings, recently unveiled following a painstaking restoration, remain a testament to the story of one inmate who underwent a powerful change through his Catholic faith.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Michael Welch: Escape to Prison: Penal Tourism and the Pull of Punishment

Free. Reception to follow.

In Escape to Prison, criminalist Michael Welch explores ten prison museums on six continents, examining the complex interplay between culture and punishment. He writes, "Prison museums tend to invert the Disneyland experience, becoming the antithesis of ‘the happiest place on earth.’”

Michael Welch is Professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, and a Visiting Professor at Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the London School of Economics where he conducts research on punishment and human rights.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Jen Manion: Liberty's Prisoners

Free. Reception to follow.

Historian Jen Manion argues that the penitentiary system in early America exploited racist ideologies, gender norms, sexual desire, and antipathy towards the poor to justify its existence and expansion. The use of incarceration grew as women, enslaved people, and indentured servants—those previously with no legal standing— increasingly claimed their own right to life, liberty, and happiness.

In this pattern, Liberty’s Prisoners argues, we see a precursor to the dramatic growth of the U.S. prison system in the last 40 years.

Dr. Jen Manion is Associate Professor of History at Connecticut College.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 (All day) - Sunday, November 15, 2015 (All day)

Members' Photo Contest

Standard Admission

Eastern State is one of the most photogenic locations in America. Each year photographers travel from all across the globe to photograph the penitentiary.

Each member may submit one color and one black and white Eastern State Penitentiary photograph for the annual Members’ Photo Contest. Photos remain on view throughout the weekend. Visitors to the historic site can cast votes for their favorite images throughout the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm, two sets of winners are announced in the color and black and white categories. Guest curator Amie Potsic selects one set of winners, and the results of the weekend’s voting are also announced. Each first place winner from the Members' Photo Contest has the opportunity to schedule a four-hour, private, behind-the-scenes photo shoot of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Click here to download the Photo Contest Guidelines.

Photo: 2014 winner Jacqueline Gaines, “Light Fixture”

Thursday, November 26, 2015 (All day)

Closed for Thanksgiving

Eastern State Penitentiary is closed on Thursday, November 26. The site reopens Friday, November 27 at 10:00 am.

Photo: collection of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, gift of the family of Howard H. Haines, Captain of the Guards.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 (All day)

#GivingTuesday

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, celebrate #GivingTuesday by making a charitable donation, tweeting or posting about your passion, and asking your friends and family to join you in supporting the penitentiary! Be sure to use #GivingTuesday.

Click here to make a donation to Eastern State Penitentiary.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: December 2015

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion Topic TBA.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.