Hidden Lives Illuminated

Eastern State Penitentiary



Digital composite of Eastern State Penitentiary’s Hidden Lives, Illuminated, 2017. Photo courtesy of Greenhouse Media.


Jesse Krimes, Apokaluptein 16389067: II, 2015. Photo by Darryl Moran.


Aerial view of Eastern State Penitentiary, 2014. Photo by Darryl Moran.

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Hidden Lives Illuminated offers a rare look into daily life inside America’s correctional system through twenty newly commissioned, animated short films, created by artists living or working in prisons. A total of twenty films were projected onto Eastern State’s 30-foot facade. Nightly screenings were grouped into four themed weeks: “The View from Inside,” “Criminal Justice Today,” “Family and Community Impact,” and “Restorative Justice.” Concurrent programs hosted by community ambassadors fostered public conversation around social and criminal justice issues, before the project culminated in a one-night festival during which all films were screened, along with a documentary about the artists, which played inside the historic site’s cellblocks. A short documentary about the creation of the project will later be on view for future Eastern State visitors. In 2020, screenings of the film were presented as part of Eastern State Penitentiary's fall Night Tours.  

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.