Chicago’s Newest Museum Lets You Take a Stab at Medieval Torture

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Like any major metropolitan city and cultural hub, Chicago has renowned museums enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. From the Art Institute and the Chicago History Museum to specialty museums like the International Museum of Surgical Science and the Leather Archives and Museum, Chicago has some of the best in the world. And now, there is an ultimate addition to Chicago’s culture and museum scene — the Medieval Torture Museum we’ve all been waiting for so long!

A Different Kind of Museum

The recently opened Medieval Torture Museum is the newest to join Chicago’s cultural landscape. It found its home on State Street last month, neighboring the iconic Chicago Theatre in the Loop. It’s a one-of-a-kind museum in the city, being interactive with a focus on the history of torture. The museum first made its debut in St. Augustine, FL before expanding into Chicago.

Don’t let the interactive element of a torture museum freak you out. While it’s not recommended for those under 18, it’s all an educational and safe experience. 

Rather than being roped off or under glass, the exhibits allow customers to experience firsthand some of the torture devices and methods. Realistic dummies contorted every which way and interactive replications of the devices help with the experience.

Interact With Eight Rooms of Torture Devices and Tools

A wall of skulls greets you as you walk through the museum lobby—just a taste of what’s to come in the eight rooms of exhibits. Past the turnstile and up the stairs, you’ll begin your journey through the history of torture.

Each installation has a placard providing a brief summary of the torture method’s history. The museum also provides a free audio guide that gives more context if say, you’re wondering in depth what those strange clamps are for.

You’ll find both familiar and not-so-recognizable tools, like the Brazen Bull, allegedly a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece used in Sicily. The entirely bronze bull was designed in the form and size of an actual bull with a door on one side leading to a hollow interior. 

The criminal would be locked inside the bull and a fire set under it, basically cooking the person alive. There was also an acoustic design element that altered the screams to sound like a bull. 

If that sounds like a nightmare from hell, it might soothe you to know that the Brazen Bull is one of the many torture methods that don’t have concrete proof of existing and is possibly just a legend.

A more familiar method to most is the guillotine, designed to behead the condemned swiftly and less painfully than traditional beheadings. It was used throughout many European countries, but best known for its use during the French Revolution.

It was the standard method of execution in France until capital punishment was abolished in 1981. The last person executed by guillotine in the world was in 1977.

The museum lets you try your hand as the executioner by pulling a rope that releases a sharp, oblique blade to behead a condemned dummy.

If diving deep into the history of torture methods isn’t enough nightmare fuel, your ticket also includes a ghost hunting experience in the museum. The museum’s free ghost hunting app lets you find the spirits of the damned in each room.

Who says Halloween is the only time of the year to be spooked? The Medieval Torture Museum is located at 177 N State Street and open daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $29.99 for a limited time only.

Featured Image Credit: Medieval Torture Museum

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