ARTH 570-301: Eastern State Penitentiary


Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the most famous and influential buildings in the world. Built in the early nineteenth century as an embodiment of the ideals of prison reformers, it is now preserved as a historic site whose award-winning programming explores contemporary issues of mass incarceration and criminal justice, subjects that many Americans believe to be the civil rights issues of our times. Taught in partnership with the staff of Eastern State, this seminar will explore the management of this “anchor institution.” Topics to be considered include strategic planning, interpretation of the site, the design of programs and exhibitions (including site-specific art installations and theatrical events), architectural planning and conservation, and engagement with diverse constituencies and neighborhoods. The class will explore notable failures and missteps along with programmatic successes, and will examine the ethical choices made when balancing social justice programming and the origination’s Halloween-themed fundraising activities. Assignments will include oral reports, a short writing assignment, and a research paper.


David B. Brownlee, Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor, History of Art
Sean Kelley, Senior Vice President and Director of Interpretation, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Sara Jane (Sally) Elk, President and CEO, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site


Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.