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Workhouse Joins in Statewide Preservation Project

The Workhouse Prison Museum/Workhouse Arts Center has been selected to participate in a statewide project designed to help improve care of collections for museums, libraries and archives. The Workhouse Prison Museum is one of 10 institutions in Virginia selected to participate in the project, sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums, the Library of Virginia, and the Department of Historic Resources.

The program is funded by a “Connecting to Collections” statewide implementation grant awarded to the Virginia Association of Museum by the Institute of Museums and Library Services. Designed to help small museums and libraries across Virginia improve collections care, the project involves an on-site visit to the Workhouse Prison Museum by a needs assessment team of museum and library professionals, who spend the better part of a day touring the institution and collections. Following the visit, they will send a report recommending steps the institution can take to improve collections care over the next two years, with suggested resources to help accomplish them. The needs assessments will be conducted at institutions around the state from November 2011 through April 2013.

Among other items, the museum displays a Day Book from 1918 listing the names of the suffragists jailed at the workhouse (their crime was “obstructing passage of the sidewalk” in front of the White House); handcuffs and shackles from the early 20th century; the Workhouse Escape Log, 1914-1947; and an extensive collection of shanks and shaves, made by prisoners from a wide variety of materials.

Come visit the Workhouse Prison Museum, located in Building W-9 at the Workhouse Arts Center, 9601 Ox Road, Lorton. The museum is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. Weekday hours are noon to 3 p.m.; weekend hours are noon to 4 p.m. Or see www.WorkhouseArts.org.

The Workhouse Prison Museum opened to the public in 2009.  Presently in a temporary home in Building W-9 at the Workhouse Arts Center, the museum was created to present an overview of some of the interesting events which took place at the District of Columbia Correctional Complex at Lorton from its opening in 1910 until the last prisoner left in December 2001. The Museum Committee is committed to preserving the history of the former prison and to opening a larger, more permanent home for the Prison Museum.