Announcements

Christmas Sale Through December 7

Barbara Sloan will be at the Museum Saturday, December 6 from 10:00am-5:00pm to sign her book Last Statement.

Special information for school tours.

A photograph of the Texas Prison Museum and monument
The Texas Prison Museum attracted over 31,000 visitors in 2013.
A photograph of a meeting in the Texas Prison Museum Conference Center
Preparing for a meeting in our 2,400 square foot conference room. Rental information.

Our Popular Exhibits

Unique Audio Exhibit

Photograph of the In this Timeless Time audio display

An interesting look back at the Texas Death Row at the Ellis Unit in 1979 as told by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian. They were allowed daily access to the death row inmates and recorded, both in picture and audio, this piece of history. The exhibit offers a excerpt from an NPR interview with Bruce and Diane about their experience and recent book, In This Timeless Time.

Capital Punishment Exhibit

A photograph of Old Sparky, the decomissioned electric chair used in Texas between 1924 and 1964.
From the time of Independence from Mexico until 1924, hanging was the lawful method of execution in Texas. Hangings took place in the county where the condemned person was convicted.

In 1924 the State of Texas took control of all executions and prescribed electrocution as the method. One of the most chilling exhibits at the Texas Prison Museum is "Old Sparky," the decommissioned electric chair in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964. This legendary device, made by prison workers, was in storage at the Walls Unit Death House before being donated to the museum, and is our most controversial exhibit.

In 1964 executions were stopped while the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the fate of execution practices. Executions resumed in 1982 with lethal injection replacing electrocutions as the means of carrying out the death penalty.

Photograph of the Capital Punishment Exhibit showing a noose, a partial American flag, and several anti-execution news articles.

Prison Contraband Exhibit

"Contraband" is any item that represents a serious threat to the security and safety of the institution. This exhibit shows the craftiness and creativeness of inmates who manufacture weapons from materials found within the prison units. The two examples below are from the display.

Photograph of the Prison Contraband Exhibit showing a switchblade in a pair of shower slides.
Photograph of the Prison Contraband Exhibit showing a stainless steel shank.

Inmate Art

For recreation many inmates utilize their artistic capabilities. Some inmates turn out beautiful drawings, paintings, models, and sculptures. This exhibit highlights various types of art projects created by Texas inmates.

Photograph of examples of inmate art, included a horn and a model ship.
This wooden motorcycle model was made by an inmate. It is about 90% complete and a stunning piece of art.
A photo of a painted saw blade with images of cowboys and a rodeo clown.
This saw blade was used by the saw mill at the Ellis Unit and painted by inmates there.

Prison Hardware

Various types of hardware have been used to contain inmates. This exhibit shows the different types of equipment used over the years, including the old ball and chain, pad locks, and modern handcuffs.

Photograph of the Prison Hardware Exhibit, showing a various styles of handcuffs, cell door keys, and other items.
 

Last Statement

The work by premier photographer Barbara Sloan. Last Statement is a compassionate look at the victim’s of both sides left behind following an execution.

Photograph of the Last Statement exhibit.