The Times, Munster. July 28, 2014.
Crown Point is right site for museum
On the 80th anniversary of John Dillinger’s death, the Hammond museum with his name was shut down. The museum is moving to Crown Point, closer to the scene of perhaps his most infamous crime - his escape from the Lake County Jail. That’s where it belongs. …
The Dillinger era should be remembered, but not honored. Dillinger was the FBI’s Public Enemy No. 1, after all.
At the time, Dillinger became a twisted Robin Hood-type hero for attacking the institutions that failed so many during the Great Depression. But he was a criminal, not a positive role model.
That’s not to say the museum shouldn’t exist. It should serve as a reminder of the famous outlaw who terrorized Northwest Indiana, along with the rest of the Midwest.
For the last 15 years, the John Dillinger Museum has been housed at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, right off the Borman Expressway. The museum told of Dillinger’s life and times using artifacts, interactive displays and life-size dioramas.
When the museum opens in Crown Point, it will benefit from flat screens, touch screens, digital audio and other interactive technologies that weren’t available when the Hammond museum was designed.
If all goes according to plan, the new museum will open by March 3, in time for the 81st anniversary of Dillinger’s jailbreak.
The museum is to be located on the first floor of the old Lake County Courthouse, on Crown Point’s square.
It is a fitting location, because the old jail is nearby. Restaurants and other businesses in the area are likely to benefit from the tourism generated by the museum.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority reached an eight-year agreement with the Lake Court House Foundation to move the museum.
The museum belongs in Crown Point, where the famous escape occurred.
In designing and promoting the museum, make sure it doesn’t glorify crime. Instead, continue to honor law enforcement efforts, both then and now.
That’s a fitting tribute to Dillinger’s victims.