The nation’s only museum dedicated to nearly every facet of American law enforcement will open this month at Judiciary Square, offering exhibits that will enable visitors to assume the role of crime-scene investigators and hear first-hand accounts from law enforcement officers, victims and bystanders.
The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building — which will open to the public on Saturday, Oct. 13, two days after a dedication ceremony — will feature “walk-in-the-shoes” exhibits that employ multimedia including video, interactive scenarios and historic artifacts to explain the basics of law enforcement.
As one of eight “History Time Capsules,” an exhibition on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will include artifacts such as fragments from one of the planes and the World Trade Center buildings, a New York Police Department patrol-car door, and a firearm found melted in a locked safe inside the World Trade Center.
Each of these “time capsules” is connected to a pivotal moment in American law enforcement history. Another example is early fingerprint classification tools and wanted posters that date all the way back to the 1930s.
“What makes our museum so unique is our collection of more than 21,000 artifacts from every era of American law enforcement,” Rebecca Looney, senior director of exhibits and programs at the museum, said in a statement. “Our visitors will also get a glimpse of what life is like for the more than 900,000 law enforcement officers serving across our country. The blend of historical artifacts with modern, interactive exhibitions gives the visitor a total educational and fun experience. These exhibits are just a taste of what visitors can expect to experience inside the museum.”
As part of the grand opening, the museum this fall will host a variety of public events dedicated to prompting dialogues on topics such as the opioid epidemic and immigration.
“We want to ensure that the museum’s programming is relevant in reflecting issues facing our nation today,” said David L. Brant, executive director of the museum. “As much as we want to educate the public on the history of law enforcement, we want to reflect the role law enforcement plays in current events and how we can build strong communities through open conversations.”
First authorized by Congress in 2000, the National Law Enforcement Museum occupies a 57,000-square-foot building that’s mostly underground. Located at 444 E St. NW across from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Thursday, when it will be open until 9 p.m. Last entry is one hour before closing.
Admission costs vary from free for children under the age of 6 up to $21.95 for those from 12 to 64. Those in the military and law enforcement will receive discounts. Certain exhibits and features will require an additional charge.
For the grand opening on Oct. 13, guests can expect a day filled with free family-friendly outdoor festivities, including a 5K run, caricature artists, face painting, and demonstrations on fingerprinting and forensic activity. A timed-entry ticket will be required to enter the museum.