Prison Museums as Sites of Conscience with Sean Kelley from the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

Thursday, September 24 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Online - Online

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Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary

There are more than thirty prison museums in the United States. Drawing from his work overseeing public programming at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia, and from extensive travels to prison museums and sites of detention worldwide, Sean Kelley explores how these sites engage, or fail to engage, audiences with fundamental questions about the nation’s criminal legal system.

Co-presented by the MA in Museum Studies in conjunction with the exhibition, A Matter of Liberation: Artwork from Prison Renaissance, on view at the Thacher Gallery through Nov. 6.

About the speaker:

Sean Kelley has run all public programming at Eastern State Penitentiary since 1995, when he was hired as the organization’s first full-time employee.  He produced the site’s award-winning audio tour, now heard by more than a million visitors. He has curated more than 100 site-specific artist installations at the site, and curated the exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration which won the 2017 Overall Award for Excellence from the American Alliance of Museums. From 2017 to 2019 he oversaw “Hidden Lives Illuminated,” a project which resulted in 20 original films made by currently incarcerated individuals and projected them for a month onto Eastern State Penitentiary’s façade.

Mr. Kelley visits active prisons and writes critically about museums and social justice.