HARTFORD, Conn. —
Nader, who twice ran for president and still works at the nonprofit advocacy organization Public Citizen, has been pursuing the idea for the museum for years only to run into several roadblocks. But he said he has raised about $2 million, a museum design firm has been hired, and renovations are set to begin in the fall. He expects the museum to be established in the next two years.
He said he got the idea for the museum from trial lawyers who told him they had no place to put exhibits they used in court.
"There's not a single law museum in the U.S.," Nader said.
A spokeswoman for the American Bar Association said it shut its Museum of Law about three years ago to cut costs. Institutions such as the Library of Congress in Washington and National Constitution Center in Philadelphia display legal documents, but a national law museum doesn't exist, she said.
Gerard Eisterhold is president of Eisterhold Associates Inc., a museum exhibit design and planning firm in Kansas City, Mo., hired to design the museum. He said the challenge will be to display the law visually "so each case has its own distinct look or feel."
Videos of a memorable crash test in which a Ford Pinto burst into flames and Senate hearings by then-Sen. Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut on traffic safety will visually tell the story of how the law brought about changes in auto safety, Eisterhold said.
The tort law museum is one of many that are being used to bring to life 20th-century events and social struggles. Eisterhold Associates has designed civil rights museums and Federal Reserve visitor centers and is refurbishing the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Above all, Nader says, his museum will promote the legal system.
"We'll be puncturing a lot of myths and lies that it's a cash cow for greedy tort lawyers," Nader said.