Alcatraz East Crime Museum

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Crime in all its Facets

As you drive through Pigeon Forge, you might be surprised by a rather unusual roadside sight. A prison which could also come from the 19th century. But don’t worry, no escaped convict will stop you and ask for a ride. The ancient-looking building is actually the Alcatraz East Crime Museum – an absolute must-see for true crime fans.

Let’s not run from reality: America’s history is also a history full of crime, crooked dealings and the mob. Not necessarily pretty, yet we’re all fascinated by it, aren’t we?

Covering all aspects of criminology in its five different galleries, Alcatraz East equally shines a light on those people who commit crimes, those who suffer from them, to those whose job it is to solve them and ultimately bring justice.

Opened in 2016, it’s a relatively new addition to Pigeon Forge’s long list of attractions, although the facility and its exhibits were themselves once known as the National Museum of Crime and Punishment and were once located in Washington, D.C.

The museum’s architecture was not only inspired by its namesake, the notorious Alcatraz off the coast of San Francisco, but also by Tennessee’s first prison – the Tennessee State Prison.

Museum Exhibits

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is home to over 100 exhibits from various areas which revolve around the topic of crime, its history, its investigation and its consequences.

Some exhibits became world famous through high-profile investigations and court cases, including various vehicles from famous criminal cases, like:

  • O.J. Simpsons’s white Ford Bronco
  • Ted Bundy’s 1968 Volkswagen Beelte
  • John Dillinger’s 1933 Ford V-8 getaway car

In addition to vehicles, much smaller showpieces are also presented, for example:

  • The machine gun that Al Pacino used in Scarface
  • John Wayne Gacy’s paint box
  • Al Capone’s rosary

In addition, there is also a lot to experience – including the Punishment exhibition, which deals with the consequences of crime, that usually happen far away from the public eye. Here you can participate in a lineup behind one-way glass, have your mugshot taken and take a lie detector test.

Family Friendly Exhibitions

When it comes to to world of crime, things aren’t necessarily family friendly, and it’s perfectly understandable that certain subjects aren’t appropriate for children of certain age groups. To ensure that the museum experience is suitable for the whole family, a number of ideas have been put in place to let the little ones participate in the topic as well.

While younger kids might take a keen interest in the museum’s mascot, McGruff the Crime Dog, their older siblings might be more into the CSI Gallery. Inspired by the TV show of the same name, this educational, yet fun exhibit is teaching children about forensics and how science is used in solving crimes.

Interactive Experiences

If the thought of visiting a museum has your eyes closed, then rest assured that there is much more to see at Alcatraz East than pictures with long blocks of text. Younger visitors in particular should enjoy participating in one of the interactive experiences, which can be experienced by purchasing an additional ticket.

What are these experiences? For example, there is The Heist, a laser maze challenge in which you take on the role of a burglar who wants to rob a museum.

On the other side of criminology, there’s also The Top Detective Challenge, in which you can put your nose to the test as you try to solve a crime through clues scattered around the museum.

Whether you prefer to be cop or robber, nobody is leaving Alcatraz East bored. Its interactive nature and style of storytelling are the polar opposite of a bone-dry museum visit.


Alcatraz East is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator that can take guests from floor to floor.
Apart from trained service animals, pets are not permitted in the museum.
A visit to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum should take between 2 and 3 hours.

Nearby Things to do in Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge is a treasure trove of fun activities.

2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Opening hours

Sun - Thu: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Last tickets are sold 60 minute prior to closing

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