John Dillinger death mask on display in Springfield

By WEEK Producer

September 26, 2013 Updated Sep 26, 2013 at 7:09 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- He is one of the most infamous depression era gangsters and now a museum in Springfield is highlighting the life and crimes of John Dillinger including a little of the macabre.

He was ruthless and one of the most feared mobsters of all time.

"John Dillinger was the most famous criminal in the way he was shot,” said Heinz Mueller of the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation.

Outside of the Chicago's Biograph Theater in a hail of bullets.

Now part of his history is on display at the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation Museum in Springfield.

"At that time, to prove who you were, they would make a mask of the person,” said Heinz. “That was the only way to prove that he was dead to a lot of people.”

Thanks to the owner, Dillinger's 'death mask' is the highlight of an exhibit on some of Illinois' most famous mobsters.

"Able to get him to loan it to us for a period of time and that was added to the gangs of southern Illinois,” Heinz said.

With the U.S. Route 66 mother road festival coming to Springfield this weekend history buffs will have to add one more stop to their visit

The Gangs of Southern Illinois exhibit is open through Sunday, September 29.

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