The National Museum of Crime and Punishment, also known as the Crime Museum, was a privately owned museum dedicated to the history of criminology and penology in the United States. It was located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C., half a block south of the Gallery Place station. The museum was built by Orlando businessman John Morgan, in partnership with John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted, at a cost of $21 million, and opened in May 2008.Unlike most museums in Washington, DC, the Crime Museum was a for-profit enterprise. It was forced to close in September 2015 by its building’s owners after it failed to meet sales targets specified in its lease.
More than 700 artifacts in 28,000 square feet (2,600 m2) of exhibition space related the history of crime, and its consequences, in America and American popular culture. The museum featured exhibits on colonial crime, pirates, Wild West outlaws, gangsters, the Mob, mass murderers, and white collar criminals. Twenty-eight interactive stations included the high-speed police chase simulators used in the training of law enforcement officers, and a Firearms Training Simulator (F.A.T.S.) similar to that utilized by the FBI.
The main floor was devoted to a staged crime scene investigation of a simulated murder. Visitors to the museum were guided through the process of solving the crime through forensic science techniques, including ballistics, blood analysis, finger printing and foot printing, and dental and facial reconstruction.
At one time the museum served as the television studio for America’s Most Wanted, a long-running (1988–2013) television series that dramatized unsolved crimes. The television program led to the capture of more than 1,000 fugitives (16 from the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives) due to the crime tips reported by the public when criminals were profiled. When the series switched to on-location shooting, the studio was converted into an interactive exhibit where visitors could solve a hypothetical crime. Surrounding the studio were exhibits on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and McGruff the Crime Dog, as well as a Cross Match Technologies station for child finger printing.