Fort Walla Walla Museum looks to expand penitentiary exhibit - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fort Walla Walla Museum looks to expand penitentiary exhibit

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WALLA WALLA, WA. -- The Fort Walla Walla Museum is looking to expand the Walla Walla Penitentiary display. There's already a treasure trove of historical items from old weapons fashioned by the inmates more than 100 years ago to this guy, who's got quite the story to tell.

"My name is George Van Brocklin from Walla Walla County," the recorded voice says. "I'm one of the first convicts put in this territorial prison in 1887. You see that bucket over there in the corner? Well that's my toilet."

The museum already gets thousands of school age children visiting to learn the history of our region. The museum staff thinks we all could benefit from more displays on one of our important local institutions.

"This is a very important part of our regional heritage," Fort Walla Walla Museum Executive Director James Payne said. "The penitentiary today is much different than it was in the past but it's always been a major employer. One of the important things we do here also is we like to connect children with their heritage. They're now part of the continuation of history. So when they learn about the past they learn that they're part of something bigger than themselves. It gives them a sense of place and a sense of belonging."

James says even if you were here years ago as a student, come back. They're always adding new exhibits and new things for you to learn. And they want you to check out this exhibit. They're trying to add new things and your feedback matters.

Also, if you want to learn more, there's a new book out called Washington State Penitentiary. You can find it in the museum book store.