The Museum of Historic Torture Devices is located in the Downtown district of the Wisconsin Dells. This area is lined with shops, restaurants and countless attractions. The Museum address is 740 Eddy Street (after Eddy Munster, I wonder?). This is a side streeet, but only a few hundred feet up from Broadway, which is the "main drag."
Parking directly in front of the museum required paying a parking meter, as do most good parking spaces in the Dells. Luckily, we discovered FREE PARKING a few blocks to the southeast behind the Wisconisn Dells City Building. We had to walk three and a half minutes back to the downtown district, but this was not an entirely bad thing after riding in a car for two hours. The parking meters seem to average about one cent per minute, so we saved about four bucks for our afternoon visit.
The museum consists of a private collection of torture devices, plus photos and written description of how devices like these were used throughout history. There are approximately forty exhibits, plus a short documentary film. The descriptions were written in both English and Spanish.
Contrary to what I intitally expected, this experience was emotionally intense. It was saddening and touching to learn about how our ancestors were cruelly mistreated, all in the name of justice. For example, 100,000 or more "witches" were burned at the stake in Germany during the middle ages. These innocent women were tortured to death for commiting such non-crimes as "causing hailstorms," and "fornicating with Satan." These were normal people, just like you and me, who were accused of outlandish crimes, but simply had no way to defend themselves. No one dared come to their defense for fear of being implicated as "Fellow witches," or "Sorcerers."
Likewise, the Spanish Inquistion area of the museum left a mark on me. It shouldn't have struck me so powerfully that people will "Confess" to any crime after being coerced and tormented with extreme physical pain. Who wouldn't confess to any accusation after having their limbs disjointed on "The Rack," or having their flesh burnt with hot irons? And who, after reading the teachings of Jesus Christ could ever commit such barbarous acts in the name of God?
The Museum of Historic Torture Devices provides a much needed reminder of the bad things we humans are capable of doing to one another. The exhibits date from ancient times (The Roman Crucifixion) to about 1973 (The "Spanish Garotte" strangulation stool). The exhibits cover strictly "State-sponsoned" torture, which adds the extra level of utter amazement that ALL OF THESE TORTURE TECHNIQUES WERE ONCE PERFECTLY LEGAL!
We spent about an hour at the museum, but the attendant said that a half hour is the average. Not bad for $7.50 for adults. Plan on reading a lot, so BRING YOUR READING GLASSES (I had to run back to car for mine). Photos are discouraged due to the rudeness of flash-bulbs, but the attendant said it was okay, as long as we didn't film or bother any of the other patrons.
This Attraction gets a big "thumbs up" for adults who want to learn the true, pitiful, dark chapters of human history. You'll forget what you ate for lunch on this day, but you won't forget this museum.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.