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Press Releases

  • MLK Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with three days of free community programs, Saturday, January 13 through Monday, January 15, 2018. The historic prison offers special readings of Dr.

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  • Holiday Toy Drive for Kids with Incarcerated Parents

    -- Visitors donate toys and children’s books in exchange for “Buy One, Get One Free” admission to the historic site --

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  • Family Weekend: Pets in Prison 2017

    Philadelphia, PA (August 22, 2017) – Eastern State Penitentiary partners with New Leash on Life USA to present “Family Weekend: Pets in Prison” on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24. The event, designed for kids and adults of all ages, will feature interactive and educational activities all weekend long.

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  • Bastille Day Features Free Performance and Raining Tastykakes

    Eastern State Penitentiary is teaming up with The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, to present the French Revolution in a spectacle of song, dance, and raining Tastykakes for the penitentiary’s annual Bastille Day festival, to be held Saturday, July 15, 2017.

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  • ESPHS Awarded Pew Center Grant for Outdoor Film Series

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded a project grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to produce a series of animated films titled “Hidden Lives, Illuminated,” to debut in fall 2019.

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  • Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts Prison Food Weekend on June 3 and 4

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4. On these days visitors can sample two states’ versions of nutraloaf, the “food product” issued as punishment in many American prisons.

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  • ESPHS Wins Nation’s Highest Award in Exhibition Development and Design

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has won First Place in the prestigious Excellence in Exhibitions awards presented by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). The award goes to Eastern State’s new exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

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  • Long-Abandoned Medical Wing Opens to the Public

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site kicks off its 2017 season on Friday, May 5 with the first-ever public tours of Cellblock 3, also called the Hospital Block. Visitors have long wished to explore this space, but its severe deterioration has made touring the hospital impossible – until now.

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  • Programming Overview 2017

    Eastern State Penitentiary is open for tours every day, 12 months a year. All daytime programming (“The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, Hands-On History, artist installations, and exhibits) is included in one admission price.


    Hours and Information:

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  • Special Event Highlights 2017

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site hosts many special events throughout the year. 2017 highlights are outlined below. For a full schedule, visit

    The Searchlight Series
    First Tuesday of Every Month, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


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  • Artist Installations 2017

    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site will host three new and 11 returning artist installations in 2017. The projects were chosen for their ability to address Eastern State’s primary themes—including perspectives on the contemporary American criminal justice system and the penitentiary’s fascinating past—with a memorable, thought-provoking approach.

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  • By the Numbers 2017

    Opened:    1829

    Closed:     1971

    Years of Active Use:     142

    Architect:     John Haviland (1792-1852)

    Initial Expense:     $770,000  (believed to be second only to the U.S. Capitol in expense of an American building to date)

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  • Criminal Justice Policy and the New Administration

    As the United States transitions into a new presidential administration, we continue to urge policymakers to study recent criminal justice successes when developing federal policy.

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Press Contacts

Nicole Frankhouser

Associate Director of Marketing and Communications
[email protected]

Ellen Feist

Marketing and Communications Strategist
[email protected]
2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner