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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tasmania: Port Arthur Gothic

Tasmania: Port Arthur Gothic

By JULIA CLARK | The white box is dead! This museum reeks of atmosphere— dark, oppressive, gloomy, some say Gothic. Located in a former dormitory of the Lunatic Asylum, it loudly proclaims itself a new museum while whispering of its past use.

The great prison reformer Jeremy Bentham provided its theme; his Penitentiary, on which Port Arthur's system was modelled, was 'a machine for grinding rogues honest'. Mounted on a wall at the entrance are schematic representations of the three main cogs in this machine; the Bible for religious and moral instruction; the hammer for work and trade training; the whip for discipline and punishment.

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