Eastern State is back in full swing with a new exhibition


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Fairmount has resumed normal operations for the first time since the pandemic began. With its return, the old prison has added new exhibits and tours.

DLP Mirror is an art installation installed in Cellblock 15, also known as Death Row. This is the first time that the public has entered the historic space.

Translucent rods represent cell bars as a recording of piano music plays, performed by San Antonio pianist Mark Menjivar.

“What you were hearing was a musical score written by a man named David Lee Powell,” Menjivar explained.

“He was on Texas death row for 32 years, he was executed in 2010. David wrote this without any musical training or access to an instrument. He was inspired by a mathematical game that Mozart was using in the 1820s and he developed a rhythmic variation of an existing musical score.”

Menjivar said he hopes visitors will reflect on the approximately 2,500 people on death row in the United States.

Eastern State senior vice president Sean Kelley said the museum is bouncing back after two tough years.

“Eastern State is open seven days a week, plus four nights a week. We’re open 65 hours a week,” he said. “If there’s a museum that’s open more hours than Eastern State Penitentiary, I’d like to know who it is.”

Beyond the art installation, there’s new content on his audio tours, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi (“Fargo,” “Ghost World”) and featuring the real voices of former Guardians, Guardians and detainees.

Night Tours: Summer Twilight will also be back this year with an expanded schedule and a beer garden on tap.

Another museum in the region not only had to deal with the pandemic, but was uniquely placed to observe it.

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