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  • Writer's pictureTyler Doan

Intern Trip 2022: Alcatraz

On May 21, 2022, the interns had the privilege to visit Alcatraz. Departure was at 6:30 pm from Pier 33 and this memorable trip lasted until we came back at around 9:30. In a reversal of positions, while visiting Alcatraz, the interns were not giving out information or giving tours. We were there to learn and explore this island. Most of our time was spent exploring the prison itself. We walked around the different areas of the prison. This included the different types of cells, the dining room, the library, the visiting booths, and the courtyard. We learned that of all the different areas of the prison, the dining room was considered to be the most dangerous spot, due to the prisoners being able to have access to a knife.

The first part of our tour at Alcatraz was a guided audio tour. We walked around the prison listening to the recording and learning about what goes on at Alcatraz. If there was one thing that we learned from going to Alcatraz : It was the answer to this question: How does one get sentenced to Alcatraz? I had the idea that you had to be a deadly criminal, who did something really bad, but that wasn’t the case. In order to be sent to Alcatraz, the criminal had to have attempted to escape from the previous prison they were sentenced to. That’s right, all the prisoners who spent time at Alcatraz were prisoners who attempted to escape from their previous prison. And that is how they ended up on Alcatraz.

Going to Alcatraz was really fun and memorable. By coming here, we achieved a goal of this internship and that is to scout how other museums present their exhibits. Alcatraz had an exhibit on mass incarceration. After learning from Alcatraz’s point of view, people were able to vote, yes, no, or maybe, to the question: Did Mass Incarceration have anything to do with slavery? I think adding something like this to our museum and getting our public’s opinion on whatever exhibit we choose to use in the voting poll would be interesting. Our tour around Alcatraz came to a conclusion and was the last tour all four interns chose to attend.

Probably the most memorable figure we learned about from Alcatraz was a prisoner named William Baker. The tour guide spoke so highly of him, not from the perspective of the bad things he did, but because he added a personal view of what it was like to be a prisoner at Alcatraz. Alcatraz shut down on March 21, 1963. William Baker was sent somewhere else but soon came back to Alcatraz, not as a prisoner, but as a free man who wanted closure. He offered the museum more information and ironically, he hangs around the piers every morning, where people can take a picture with him and get their book, Alcatraz-1259. The tour guide mentioned that he loves doing these things for the museum and taking pictures with people, simply just for attention. This trip is one that will be remembered.

"What I liked most was the visual representations of what exhibits would talk about from San Francisco. It gave a clear and better understanding of what the exhibit was trying to tell you instead of reading the whole thing, it saved you time so you can have more time looking at other exhibits."

-Tyler Doan

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