Events

Thursday, April 2, 2015 (All day) - Sunday, April 12, 2015 (All day)

Pop-Up Museum: Escape!

Standard Admission

The archives of Eastern State Penitentiary are packed with historic treasures that the public rarely sees. Thousands of photographs, stacks of inmate-written magazines, and even shanks (homemade weapons) are numbered and tucked carefully into museum-grade storage in the site’s administrative offices.

Historic site visitors often see photographs of these treasures, but the building’s lack of museum-quality climate control makes exhibiting the objects impossible. Until now.

For 11 days only, Eastern State Penitentiary presents its third annual Pop-Up Museum! The theme for Pop-Up Museum 2015 is escapes.

Pop-Up Museum is included with admission. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

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

Exonerated from Death Row

Free. Reception to follow.

Both Kirk Bloodsworth and Harold Wilson were given the death penalty for crimes they did not commit. They spent a combined 18 years on death row. Kirk was the first person released from death row in the United States because of DNA evidence; he now serves as a Board Member for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Harold is the sixth and most recent death row exoneree from Pennsylvania. They now tell their stories of wrongful conviction as members of Witness to Innocence, the nation's only organization of exonerated death row survivors.

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.

Friday, May 1, 2015 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Reception for the 2015 Season

Free

Eastern State Penitentiary hosts a changing series of artist installations and historic exhibits as part of its ongoing programming. Join us for a chance to meet artists Jesse Krimes, Emily Waters, Ruth Scott Blackson, and Jess Perlitz, and to see a new exhibit highlighting gangs at Eastern State and in prisons today. Light refreshments served.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

On the Run

Free. Reception and book signing to follow.

Drawing on six years of fieldwork in Philadelphia, Alice Goffman's book On the Run describes young men growing up as suspects and fugitives in the segregated Black neighborhoods torn apart by the war on crime and unprecedented levels of targeted imprisonment.

Alice Goffman is an urban ethnographer who grew up in Philadelphia, attended graduate school at Princeton, and now teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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, May 9, 2015 - 11:30am - 2:30pm

Alumni Reunion

Standard Admission

Some of Eastern State's alumni--former officers and inmates--return to the cellblocks to share their memories with the public during two Q&A sessions.

 

Schedule:
Q&A Session #1: 11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Q&A Session #2: 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

The Alumni Reunion is included with admission. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 8:00pm - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - 11:45pm

Party at the Pen: The Masquerade, presented by Terror Behind the Walls

Separate Admission

It's back.

Party at the Pen: The Masquerade, presented by Terror Behind the Walls, returns by popular demand. Expect luscious libations, mind-blowing beats, and intriguing adventures, as well as some new and unique talent.

Gates to some of the dark, otherwise-off-limits corridors of the abandoned prison will be momentarily unlocked. When a masked gentleman offers his outstretched hand and asks, "Are you feeling adventurous?" make haste and follow him on a thrilling journey through Eastern State's storied past.

Dance. Drink. Explore.

Click here for details and tickets.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: June 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.

Saturday, June 6, 2015 - 11:00am - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - 4:30pm

Prison Food Weekend: Nutraloaf from around the U.S.

Standard Admission

Eastern State Penitentiary brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend, with a focus in 2015 on Nutraloaf, the “food product” issued as punishment in many American prisons. Courts have generally upheld the rights of prisons to punish inmates with these diets, but the practice remains controversial.

Visitors to the historic site can sample Nutraloaf created using the official recipes from five U.S. states. They can then record their thoughts on a tasting card and decide for themselves whether serving Nutraloaf is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Prison Food Weekend activities are available from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm each day, included with admission. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 5:30pm - 8:00pm

Photographers' Twilight Hours (1 of 3)

General Admission: $20
ESP Members: Free

Photographers have Eastern State Penitentiary to themselves in the beautiful dusk light. Tripods, models, and handheld lighting equipment are all welcome during these hours. $20 admission for any person entering.

Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Please review our photography policies before attending Photographers' Twilight Hours.

Photo: 2014 Members' Photo Contest Winner Cheryl Kozak, “Distraction from Confinement”

Saturday, June 27, 2015 - 12:00pm - Sunday, June 28, 2015 - 4:00pm

Family Weekend: Pets in Prison with New Leash on Life USA

Standard Admission

Eastern State Penitentiary partners with New Leash on Life USA for Family Weekend: Pets in Prison.

Families discover unique stories about prison animals all weekend long! Kids hear about Eastern State Penitentiary’s most famous four-legged resident, Pep the Dog; participate in an animal-themed scavenger hunt; and find out how animals continue to play a role in prisons today.

At age 18, Norberto "Rob" Rosa was sentenced to 12 years in prison. A puppy training program there changed his life, and today Rob is the Director of Operations for New Leash on Life USA. Hear from Rob about his firsthand experience training dogs in prison, and about the work he's doing now to improve the lives of inmates and save the lives of dogs.

Following the presentation, visitors to the historic site can meet some dogs from the New Leash on Life USA program and, if interested, can adopt any dogs that haven’t yet found homes.

Family Weekend activities are available from 12:00 to 4:00 pm, included with admission. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Saturday, July 4, 2015 (All day)

Independence Day

Standard Admission

Eastern State Penitentiary is open from 10 am until 5 pm and is located just three blocks from the Ben Franklin Parkway, site of the some of the best fireworks in the nation! So tour Eastern State, have dinner at one of the great neighborhood restaurants, and stay for the fireworks! Happy Independence Day!

Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC

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

Jennifer Storm: Protecting Victims' Rights

Free. Reception to follow.

The rights of crime victims are sometimes overlooked in our criminal justice system. What is their role? How has that role been changing? What challenges face these families who, after all, have been pulled into the legal system by the violent or unlawful actions of others?

Jennifer Storm is Commonwealth Victim Advocate. She represents the rights and interests of crime victims generally throughout the Commonwealth and specifically regarding post-sentencing rights before the Board of Probation and Parole, Department of Corrections. Her office oversees notification to crime victims of the potential for inmate release and provides input to the board regarding all paroling decisions.

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, July 11, 2015 - 5:30pm

Bastille Day

Cabaret and Reenactment: Free
ESP Tours, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Standard Admission
ESP Tours, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm: $8 online; $10 at the door

One of Philadelphia’s most popular summertime events! Eastern State Penitentiary teams with The Bearded Ladies cabaret group to present one of Philadelphia’s largest free theatrical performances, which culminates with a playful reenactment of the Storming of the Bastille (influenced more by Monty Python than the actual French Revolution).

The performance takes place on Fairmount Avenue at 5:30 pm, free and open to the public. For those interested in a better (French Bourgeoisie) view, exclusive VIP seating is available for a donation fee. VIP tickets include seating, beer and refreshments, heckling from the lower classes, and revolution goodie bags. Tickets are available online.

Following the performance, many wonderful restaurants surrounding the penitentiary come alive with French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials.

Come early and take a tour of Eastern State (standard admission), or stay late and take a twilight tour following the reenactment ($10 for adults; $5 for seniors, students, and kids).

More information is available on our website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 5:30pm - 8:00pm

Photographers' Twilight Hours (2 of 3)

General Admission: $20
ESP Members: Free

Photographers have Eastern State Penitentiary to themselves in the beautiful dusk light. Tripods, models, and handheld lighting equipment are all welcome during these hours. $20 admission for any person entering.

Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Please review our photography policies before attending Photographers' Twilight Hours.

Photo: 2014 Members' Photo Contest Winner Cheryl Kozak, “Distraction from Confinement”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: August 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.