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Spring Break: Sports & Recreation

March 23, 2024 – March 31, 2024

Spring Break: Sports & Recreation

Included with Daytime Admission.

This Spring Break, join us to explore the profound impact of sports and recreation on prison life through engaging talks, family-friendly activities, and interactive experiences. Discover the rich and captivating history of sports and other team activities at Eastern State Penitentiary and their enduring societal legacy in prisons today.

From March 23 through March 31, daytime admission to the historic site includes "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, Hands-On History experiences, exhibits, and artist installations PLUS the following programming:

  • Pop-Up Museum: Sports & Recreation (Ongoing) Visit the Dialogue Space, and get a closer look at rarely-seen artifacts that tell the story of sports and recreation at Eastern State including historic photographs, prisoner-made crafts, and recovered athletic equipment. Plus, try your hand at games that people incarcerated at Eastern State once played like dominos, checkers, chess, and cards.
  • Sports & Recreation Scavenger Hunt — (Ongoing) Designed with kids and their caregivers in mind. Pick up a packet near the first audio tour stop, near Al Capone's Cell, or in the Prisons Today exhibit. Complete this sports-themed scavenger hunt to receive an exclusive sticker prize! Claim your prize when you return your audio guide at the end of your visit.
  • Hands-On History: Race, Baseball, & The Legend of Charles "Jack" Blackburn(Daily, 4 pm) Join an Educator for a 10-minute tour that shares the fascinating story of this Hall of Fame boxer turned Eastern State Penitentiary baseball player. Meet at the Hands-On History sign near the intersection of Cellblocks 2, 10, and 11.
  • Hands-On History: Baseball Pop-Up Talks & Home Run Hits — (March 23 at 11:30 am, March 28 at 11:30 am, & March 31 at 1:30 pm) Step onto the penitentiary's historic baseball field where you'll learn more about the impact of baseball in prisons, past and present, from one of our Educators. Then, step up to the "plate" and see how far you can hit a wiffle ball toward Eastern State's tall perimeter wall.
  • Guide-Led Tour & Discussion — (Daily, Select Times) Join an Educator for a small group tour that invites you to consider Eastern State’s history and how it relates to modern-day incarceration. Tours during Spring Break will feature additional content about sports & recreation. Guide-Led Tours begin promptly at 2 pm on weekdays and 10:30 am on weekends; additional tours for Spring Break will be held on March 23 at 12 pm, March 29 at 11:30 am, and March 30 at 12 pm. All Guide-Led Tours meet outside Cellblock 1, have limited capacity, and are subject to availability. Secure your spot by purchasing timed and dated Guide-Led Tour & Discussion tickets online in advance.
  • Sports & Recreation Trivia (March 27 from 11 am - 12 pm & March 30 from 2 pm - 3 pm) Join us in the central rotunda for trivia! Test your knowledge about sports in prison for the chance to win some Eastern State merchandise.

Delving into this history unveils how sports and recreation played a crucial role in enhancing prisoners' daily lives by easing tensions, boosting morale, and fostering camaraderie among teammates. Beyond the confines of incarceration, these activities serve as a vital outlet for navigating social, economic, psychological, and political challenges, linking individuals to a sense of normalcy, home, and community. They bridge the gap between incarcerated individuals' past and future, aiding in understanding their experiences.

Sports and team activities offer recreational value and also inspire creativity, strategic thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. These activities are instrumental in developing essential life skills, beneficial both within and beyond prison walls, such as group collaboration and managing pressures effectively. Remarkably, Eastern State's sports teams showcased racial integration far ahead of their time and the broader society. From the early 1910s, white and Black prisoners united on the same baseball teams, a notable contrast to the segregation that persisted in the cellblocks until 1961 and in professional baseball until 1947.

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner