Crime Museum workshops put CSI to shame

John Aaron,

WASHINGTON – Think you’re a crime expert from watching shows like CSI and NCIS? You can test your knowledge in a new workshop this summer.

The Fact vs. Fiction class at the Crime Museum in D.C. starts off with a humbling quiz.

For example, if you’re the investigator and show up at a crime scene with the lights off, what should you do?

Turn them on and get to work, according to the museum’s Janine Vaccarello.

“But on TV, they leave the lights off and they use their glow sticks,” Vaccarello says.

Additionally, the blood-detecting chemical luminol doesn’t require orange goggles or tinted lights to glow.

“It just shows up,” Vaccarello says.

Also, DNA tests aren’t instantaneous – results take months. And blood spatter, is the correct term, not splatter.

The misconceptions are all part of what she calls the “CSI effect.”

Other new workshops at the Crime Museum are in forensic pathology, where students perform a simulated autopsy on a fetal pig, and forensic anthropology, with lessons comparing human and animal bones. There also is a class on arson that gives insight into whether fires were sent intentionally.

Classes are already underway and continue through the summer. See the full schedule at

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