Learn the history of torture and execution, and chase ghosts at one of the Loop’s hottest attractions

Have you ever imagined a museum dedicated to the history of torture and execution from the Dark Ages to the present? Look no further than Chicago’s Medieval Torture Museum. At 6,000 square feet, it’s the largest interactive museum of its kind. It’s filled with permanent displays, special exhibits, and innovative features, including a ghost-hunting adventure—inviting visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in the atmospheres of some of humanity’s darkest chapters.

The Medieval Torture Museum was inspired by museums in Europe that allow visitors to experience the emotional side of the torture chamber. Upon the realization that there was no similar concept in the United States, the museum was created as a unique attraction to shock and entertain visitors while teaching them the history of torture. 

To recreate the gloomy atmosphere of Europe’s Middle Ages, the museum’s founders enlisted a team of 80 professionals, including historians, prop masters, painters, and costume designers. The first location opened in the summer of 2017 in America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida. In fall 2021, a second location was added in the heart of Chicago’s theater district next to the Chicago Theatre; a year later, a third location was added on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. 

The primary mission of the Medieval Torture Museum is to show how power in the hands of fanatics and tyrants can lead to suffering, and inspire visitors to speak out against cruelty. But its immersive nature invites visitors to explore the darkest aspects of their psyche as well as the depths of their empathy. By learning about deadly devices such as the Armchair of Inquiries or the Spanish Horse, operating the Guillotine and Pillory exhibits, or using special scales that determine whether they’d be considered a witch, visitors can imagine themselves as executioner and victim. 

At the Chicago location, visitors can explore examples of torture, interrogation, restraint, and execution on their own, or accompanied by audio guides with narration in English and Spanish. The exhibits are enhanced by the use of highly realistic mannequins dressed in historically accurate costumes that are displayed with stories about their lives, circumstances, occupations, crimes, and the tortures they faced. While the main exhibits center on the Middle Ages, there are also displays highlighting torture from ancient civilizations (with instruments such as the Sicilian Bull and the Snake Pit) as well as devices from later eras (including the Garrote, Columbian Tie, and the Electric Chair). 

The Ghost Hunting Experience, which is included with the price of admission, is a new feature that’s already proven popular among guests. Using a special ghost-hunting app, visitors can find and catch ghosts all over the museum, while learning the stories of how they died. 

Before departing the museum, guests are invited to stop by the souvenir shop, which offers a wide range of gifts, including skulls, medieval goblets, books, figurines, swords, leather goods, and branded t-shirts.

The Medieval Torture Museum is located at 177 N. State Street. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to 8 PM and Friday through Sunday from 10AM through 9PM, with the last check in available 30 minutes before close. Due to the nature of the exhibits, the museum is recommended for visitors 18 years and older, and all minors must be accompanied by adults. Book your tickets online for a 25% discount at medievaltorturemuseum.com. For more information, call (773) 241-7777 or email mtm.chicago@benaur.com.