Staring into the Criminal’s Eyes

According to extensive internet research, by that I mean one quick search on, I discovered that Washington DC has over 120 officially recognized museums, 19 of which are part of the well-visited Smithsonian system. But, of course, if we featured any of the Smithsonian nineteen, it would be a little boring and too typical. So we visited a couple different museums – The Spy Museum and of course today’s feature The National Crime and Punishment Museum.

Ted Bundy's Volkswagon

Outside the museum, you’re greeted by handcuffs replacing the typical red velvet ropes, then inside you find yourself face to face with serial killer Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle – the one he used the night he kidnapped the woman who ultimately helped bring him to justice.

And this is BEFORE you pay!

After paying our $19/person entrance fee, the museum kicks off with medieval time and focuses more on the punishment of the time – often torture – then moves on to pirates, the Wild West and then mobsters.

Bonnie and Clyde's actual death car

I was particularly excited about the mobster section. Maybe it’s because most of these mobsters were and still are alive, but the ones featured here – Bugsy Siegel, Al “Scarface” Capone, and the “Teflon Don” John Gotti – were absolutely frightening, ruthless killers dressed as well respected businessmen and sometimes civic heroes. The museum also had a rare picture of Al Capone at a baseball game where you can clearly see the scar on the left side of his face that gave him the nickname “Scarface.”

The museum then delved into more sophisticated crimes of D.B. Cooper, whose crime remains unsolved, and Frank Abengayle, who was featured in Catch Me If You Can, and many others living “outside the law. Including the real mind-bending section – serial killers – perhaps the most frightening of the criminals featured.

The museum holds more than 700 artifacts in 28,000 square feet of space including twenty eight interactive stations including high speed chase simulators, and a Firearms Training Simulator similar to that utilized by the FBI.

If you’re interested in law enforcement or just a strange curiosity for crime – we’re not judging – The National Crime and Punishment Museum is definitely worth a couple hours of your time while in the DC. For more information, click here.

The eyes of a serial killer (Ted Bundy)