Prison graffiti preservation project takes shape at Burlington County museum

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Friday, October 6, 2023
Prison graffiti preservation project takes shape at NJ museum
The curious inscriptions within the cells of the Burlington County Prison Museum were considered in danger of disappearing.

MOUNT HOLLY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Burlington County Prison Museum was once the home of a functioning prison between 1811 and 1965.

The prison building still stands more than 200 years later. It has since become an informative museum and popular paranormal tourist attraction.

Over the years, countless instances of graffiti scribbled in cells by inmates have been lost to new coats of paint, moisture, and time in general. But thanks to a $2.9 million restoration project, both the interior and exterior of the building are going to be preserved.

The team at Jablonski Building Conservation is tackling the cells one week at a time. They take care to ensure that they are preserving, never recreating, each piece of surviving graffiti.

"Where we can conserve it and lay it back flat, that's what we're doing," said Stephanie Hoagland, an architectural conservator. "Other places, we're just using conservation-grade adhesives and some spackle so that it doesn't snap in the event that it falls off."

Among the artworks include intriguing doodles of people, bible verses, and detailed calendars, potentially counting down the days until release.

The Burlington County Prison Museum is currently closed due to these renovations, but is expected to reopen before the end of the year.

To learn more, visit their website.

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