“The former Powerhouse will be the Museum’s home when we open in 2025,” says SSPM Project Director Jerry Faiella. “The Preview Center will give potential donors and sponsors a sense of what the Museum will exhibit and the impact it will have on visitors. It is the key to unlocking the Museum’s potential and making it a reality.”
Crowd-funding campaigns like Kickstarter rely on public donations by “backers” with an affinity for the project. So far more than 75 people have contributed to the Preview Center project by pledging more than $15,000, halfway to the campaign goal. Once they have made their pledge, backers can choose incentives, depending on the size of the pledge, including Museum tote bags, tickets to “Sing Sing Swing: An ‘Up the River’ Cruise” on November 18, or dinner with Dr. Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Museum of American History and Senior Advisor to the Sing Sing Prison Museum.
“The project has evolved from its initial concept 20 years ago,” says Glass. “It will be a Site of Conscience that examines a darker period in American history, without sensationalizing or glorifying the subject matter. It will be a place for people to learn about Sing Sing’s unique place in the history of incarceration in America, and to reflect on how we can affect change in the nation’s criminal justice system today.”
The Preview Center will also enable the Sing Sing Prison Museum to offer programs and to serve as a criminal justice education center, where issues surrounding mass incarceration, sentencing and other related topics can be discussed. The Museum will also partner with Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison to facilitate re-entry programs for men leaving the facility.
The crowdsourcing campaign is the latest development for the museum project. The project has been awarded $3 million in state and matching grants, earmarked for capital projects such as stabilization of the Museum’s main artifact, the historic 1825 cellblock. The museum has received its 501(c)3 non-profit tax status from the IRS, allowing those who donate to receive a charitable tax deduction. Preservation and rehabilitation of the Powerhouse building is underway.
“Contributing to our Kickstarter campaign is a way to help us make history,” says Dana White, Ossining Village Historian and board member of the Sing Sing Prison Museum project. “This will be a one of a kind Museum that will contribute to the ongoing national conversation about the American criminal justice system.”
The 52-day Preview Center Kickstarter campaign ends on September 8. If the project does not meet its $30,000 goal, pledges will be returned. To pledge a donation, go to www.singsingprisonmuseum.org/donate. For more information on the proposed museum, visit www.singsingprisonmuseum.org.