Our Opinion: MSP museum designed to enhance attraction

The history of the Missouri State Penitentiary continues to grow in popularity and galvanize public attention.

Built in 1836, the history of the prison decommissioned in 2004 is the subject of books, tours and — coming next year — a museum.

The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), which conducts the tours, announced this week it will locate an MSP museum on the second floor of its headquarters, 100 E. High St.

Opening for the 900 square-foot museum area is scheduled for 2013.

The open floor plan will be converted to a museum designed by consulting curator Cindee Herrick, who envisions components that are historical, educational and intriguing.

Planned displays, documents, artwork and artifacts include:

• Weapons, both homemade “shivs” and “shanks” fashioned by inmates as well as manacles, line sticks (similar to billy clubs) issued to corrections officers.

• Prison cell artwork and photos, including a reproduction of a period prison cell and graffiti wall visitors may inscribe.

• Educational and historical materials depicting changes in corrections, prison industries, the 1954 prison riots, segregation and integration, and housing both men and women in the same institution.

• Biographies of 22 notable prisoners housed at MSP during its history.

The CVB’s mission is to bring people to Jefferson City. MSP tours have attracted visitors in droves, and it is reasonable to believe a related museum will enhance the attraction.

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