March 14, 2011

Electric Chair a Shocking Exhibit at Ohio Historical Centre

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says one of the more bizarre exhibitions to go on show at the Ohio Historical Centre in Columbus, Ohio next month includes a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood, an aluminium mitt used in the early 20th century to stop children sucking their thumbs — and a 150 year-old condom that was made from sheepskin and found in the diary of a steamboat captain.

But the most controversial of the exhibits is the electric chair that was used to execute 312 men and three women from 1897 until Ohio introduced lethal injection executions in 1963.

Curator, Sharon Dean said 'Controversy: Pieces You Don't Normally See' was designed to spotlight some of the more provocative of Ohio's history.

A vintage postcard of the Ohio State Penitentiary

"History isn't always pretty," she said. "But the more we can stare some of those things that aren't so pretty in the face, I think the more we can have honest, open discussions and start really working through some issues that, to date, have been fairly difficult."

Ms Dean said the electric chair was actually a highlight of public tours of the old Ohio Penitentiary that were held for many years until the government put a stop them in the 1930s. "If you look closely, it does show signs that a lot of people have sat in it," she said.

The exhibit will run from April 1 to November 20 this year and children under 18 will be barred from visiting unless accompanied by an adult.

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