Built in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. The building opened as a museum in 1994, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks, empty guard towers, and audio-tour-traveling visitors. For more than a decade, the prison has had an active contemporary art program. The organization's preservation, interpretation, and public programs prompt visitors to engage in dialogue and deepen a national conversation about criminal justice.
Filmmaker Bill Morrison and composer Vijay Iyer created a site-specific installation in Eastern State Penitentiary, a once abandoned 19th-century prison. The project, entitled Release, was organized by independent curator Julie Courtney, and brought together the two artists to manipulate and score found archival footage of the release of notorious criminal Al Capone from Eastern State in 1930. This exhibition opened in April 2010, the 80th anniversary of Capone's release from the prison.