The Lorton Workhouse Museum is part of a 55-acre adaptively reused colonial revival reformatory complex in Virginia that once served the District of Columbia. While most of the site, including dormitories, gymnasium, and farm buildings, has been transformed by a grass-roots organization, the Lorton Arts Foundation, into a visual and performing arts center, one cellblock building remains as a stabilized ruin, reserved for interpretation of the site history. This project will examine the difficult and emotional prison history and explore potential models for integrating the narrative with the current arts use. Active public programs and audio tours are recommended as the best method to engage visitors with the entire site, and inspire thinking about historic and contemporary issues of social justice. Interpretive themes that tie art and performances created by prisoners with artists working in the reused structures are explored as a way to bring visitors into a dialogue between past and present.
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