Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary will reopen to the public on Friday, March 12.
The historic site closed last November following the city’s expanded COVID restrictions. Eastern State announced its closure along with five other historic sites– the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Barnes Foundation, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art– which pledged to close for at least six weeks. Eastern State is the last of the sites to reopen.
Starting Friday, Eastern State will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Certain areas of the museum, like Cellblock 11 and the prison synagogue, will be open to the public for the first time since the COVID pandemic began. Visitors will be able to tour the museum using a modified version of “The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. The tour points out important highlights like Al Capone’s cell and the exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration.
For the health of staff and visitors, the site will be continuing COVID safety practices. Visitors older than two and staff will be required to wear masks. Visitors will be encouraged to maintain six feet of distance from one another, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the museum. Eastern State will require guests to purchase timed tickets online in advanced of visiting.
In a press release, President and CEO Sally Elk said, “We are thrilled to welcome visitors and members back to the penitentiary for meaningful and, most importantly, safe experiences on site. We hope that Eastern State’s engaging programming and awe-inspiring architecture will provide the much-needed space to escape, and also to reflect on important issues.”