American Museum of Tort Law

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American Museum of Tort Law
American Museum of Tort Law is located in Connecticut
American Museum of Tort Law
Location in Connecticut
Location654 Main Street
Winsted, Connecticut
Coordinates41°55′25″N 73°4′32″W / 41.92361°N 73.07556°W / 41.92361; -73.07556Coordinates: 41°55′25″N 73°4′32″W / 41.92361°N 73.07556°W / 41.92361; -73.07556
TypeLaw museum
FounderRalph Nader

The American Museum of Tort Law is a museum developed by Ralph Nader, located in his hometown of Winsted, Connecticut. The museum focuses on topics of civil justice and "aspects of the legal system that handle wrongful actions that result in injury".[1] The museum opened to the public in September 2015. It is the first law museum in the United States.[2][3][4]


The museum offers displays regarding the evolution of tort law, precedent setting cases, and cases that made a difference.[5] Eisterhold Associates designed the museum's exhibits. That firm also lent its efforts to a number of museums across the nation, including the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, and the Jurassic Park Discovery Center at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.[4]


Originally announced in 1998,[6] at an expected cost of $5 million[7] or $10 million,[8] Nader sought a way to turn abstract legal cases, on which he has spent significant time working, into interesting displays for the public. The museum planned to include exhibitions on some famous cases including McDonald's' scalding coffee,[9] flammable pajamas, asbestos, breast implants, medical malpractice, the pollution of Love Canal, and a Ford Pinto with the exploding gas tank.[6]

The museum's concept faced criticism from a number of sources, including questions on whether it would attract an audience outside of legal scholars[6] and whether it would be anything more than Nader's tribute to himself.[10] It was anticipated that the museum would open in late 2006 following eight years of planning and at a cost of more than $4 million.[11] By 2006, Nader had raised more than half the funds necessary, despite some funders leaving the project,[9] and the plans to use a former factory on Winsted’s Main Street had been approved by the town.[12]

In 2013, it was reported that Ralph Nader had purchased the former Winsted Savings Bank building at 654 Main Street.[13] This 6,500-square-foot (600 m2) building was approved by the Winsted Zoning Commission as the new site for the proposed museum. Building renovation and interior construction began in July 2014 and was completed in July 2015.

In June 2015, the museum hired Richard Newman as its first head. Newman is the co-author of the standard treatise on Connecticut Law of Torts and served as president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association from 2004 to 2005.[14]


  1. ^ Cowan, Alison Leigh (2015-06-16). "Buckle Up for Ralph Nader's 'Tort Museum'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  2. ^ Nader, Ralph (2014-02-02). "Tort Law: The Muscle of Justice". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  3. ^ Flynn, Ryan (2014-07-29). "Ralph Nader's Tort Museum approved by Winsted Zoning Commission". The Register Citizen. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  4. ^ a b Lambert, Ben (2015-07-23). "Renovation of future home of Ralph Nader's American Museum of Tort Law completed". The Register Citizen. Retrieved 2015-07-23.
  5. ^ "Visit". American Museum of Tort Law.
  6. ^ a b c Rabinovitz, Jonathan (1998-07-28). "Nader's Museum of Liability: Corvairs, Pintos and Implants". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  7. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (1998-08-02). "A Tort Museum! What Fun!". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  8. ^ "A Museum for Trial Lawyers". The San Antonio Express-News. 1998-08-23. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  9. ^ a b Longhine, Laura (November 2005). "Display Cases". Legal Affairs. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  10. ^ Weiss, Joanna (2000-10-17). "A Totem to Torts". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  11. ^ "Nader Keeps Faith with Museum Dedicated to American Tort Law". The Republican–American. 2005-06-02. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  12. ^ "Positive Verdict for Winsted Nader's Tort Museum Nears Reality". The Republican–American. 2006-04-07. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  13. ^ "Ralph Nader buys former bank building in Winsted to open tort law museum". The Register Citizen. 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  14. ^ "Conn. Trial Lawyer Named to Head Nader's New Tort Museum". Connecticut Law Tribune.

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