Lucy Burns Museum

 

 CLIENT Workhouse Arts Center

LOCATION Lorton, VA 

 

 

Housed in a cluster of cell blocks converted into a regional arts center, this museum explores the history of the Lorton Workhouse, a prison that operated outside of Washington, DC, from 1910 to 2001. It tells the stories of notorious criminals, infamous wardens, ordinary guards, civil rights protestors, and most notably, Lucy Burns and the other 73 suffragists who were imprisoned, beaten, and force-fed for picketing the White House for women’s right to vote. Pivoting panels surrounded by photographic murals outline the historical context, while a floor graphic traces the long struggle to secure suffrage, ultimately culminating at the story of the final “Aye” vote. Three over-lifesize statues of suffragists Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Dora Lewis bring attention to the unsung heroism and leadership of these women. The other half of the gallery focuses on prison itself including prison maps, touchable tools, and manufactured objects from prison workers, shadowboxes with prisoner-made confiscated items, and a scrapbook that conveys the tone and tenor of daily life at the complex.

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