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Exhibition Highlights

Dangerous criminals and daring escape attempts. Rich Civil War history. A Native American political stand, a stunning national park and an undeniable pop culture influence. Few destinations captivate visitors as Alcatraz does – and now, Alcatraz: Life on the Rock takes the island’s intriguing story on the road.


Alcatraz Exhibit Panel

Exhibit Overview

Guests step through cell doors to enter Alcatraz: Life on the Rock, which explores the island’s history from several angles.

  • “How Do You Know Alcatraz?” offers an interactive introduction, complete with a model of the island and a look at The Rock’s place in media and movies.
  • “Military History” examines Alcatraz’s role as a Civil War-era fortress and military prison.
  • A recreated prison cell is the centerpiece of “Life on the Inside,” which looks at the conditions convicts experienced in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.
  • “Strength: The Native American Occupation” chronicles the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz by a group of activists.
  • “Preserving the Rock” highlights the island’s current status as a national park and shares images of its lush gardens and wildlife.

Several Alcatraz alumni loaned authentic memorabilia to the exhibition, including an original letter written by Robert “Birdman” Stroud, when he was an Alcatraz prisoner; an Alcatraz shank, made from a butter knife and wrapped in electrical tape, that was taken from a prisoner in a shakedown; and an original brass key to an Alcatraz visiting room door.

Example Exhibit Layout
Sample Configuration

Did You Know?
Did You Know

The army first brought soil to rocky Alcatraz Island in the 1800s. Today more than 145 plant species grow there.

During the prison years, ferries regularly ran between Alcatraz and San Francisco so that families living on the island could attend school, work and activities.

Learn More

For an in-depth look at the exhibition, and more information on artifacts and interactive features, view the exhibit fact sheet.