True Story of Lizzie Borden –First Hand Account
I went to the grand opening of The True Story of Lizzie Borden today in Salem, MA. The day was spectacular, with the prettiest weather I could wish for. Unfortunately, the drive to Salem was a real pain, so my advice to you is that if you are coming from the South, do not follow Google’s map directions. Those take you right through the middle of Boston. Remember to travel around the city—and save yourself a lot of time.
The museum is very well arranged—you enter and move from space to space, unaccompanied. It is nice to take your time and meander, spending more time where you wish without being a part of a group.
The spaces make sense too. You start out in the Fall River area, learning about the history of the time and place with words and images. Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are period furniture pieces and antiques that go to make the place rather cozy and warm.
After the Fall River area, you learn about the family, including Bridget Sullivan. Lots of enlarged images and text adorn the walls, with some period clothing also decorating the space.
I don’t want to give away the farm, but from here on out, the exhibit gives a lot of bang for the buck. There are newly made exhibits that uniquely show the location where the murders took place, both the neighborhood of Second Street and the inside of the house at 92 itself. I was oohing and ahhing about a remarkable diorama. And then from there, well, from there you are in the murder rooms. Without gore, without sensationalizing the crimes, without blood or wax figures, The True Story of Lizzie Borden encapsulates the crimes in a very visual way. Neat, neat, neat.
The courtroom is really cool, as you get a very good sense of the legal world and the case here. It was here that those amazing new skulls are located. I wish they were for sale, because they are primo!
After you go through the court, you are taken to Maplecroft and life after the case. Then forward to the deaths of Emma and Lizzie. Some optical illusions here pleased me very much and it was a super way to end the tour. There is even a huge display on the way about the Lizzie Borden B&B/Museum, which offers information on how to contact them for tours and lodging. It fits right in with the story, and I think will prod people to visit Fall River, if they didn’t know, for instance, that the house where the murders took place is open to the public.
As with all of the Fall River Lizzie Borden businesses (Lizzie Borden B&B/Museum and the Fall River Historical Society), there is a gift shop where you can purchase all sorts of apparel, glassware, keychains, pens, and some amazing real life skulls that would make a great addition to any Halloween house.
All in all, this was a really well done show —my only suggestion would be to add some sound in some “rooms” if possible, perhaps voices talking some of the signage so that you don’t have to read so much, and a little interactivity would be sweet.
Owner Leonard Pickel told me that the exhibit is in a state of constant flux and will be changing and evolving over time. I am looking forward to returning around Halloween when the leaves are changing. I think it would be a great time to visit!
Oh, and don’t forget to take some time to visit other historical sites up this way. Salem is just a few exits away from Concord, Lexington, Danvers, and other amazing and lovely communities. History is all around you in Massachusetts. A new adventure is around every corner!