>I haven't written about my visits to off-beat museums in a while, so I thought that I would get back to that this morning. I went to the New York City Police Museum some time ago. It was a trip.
What is really great about the New York City Police Museum is its complete randomness. Everything from old dispatch equipment to police motorcycles to ornamental batons dripping with tassels and, of course, guns are on display. Signage and explanation of items on display are scattershot. You, too, can be a detective as you try to figure out what the hell you are looking at. Reading a sign about an old motorcycle did not explain why it was called an “Indian” motorcycle, but a close look at the bike itself revealed a small Indian head attached to the front fender. Hands down, my favorite display (also lacking signage and explanation) is the case filled with sinister and creative weapons. Not that I ever want to get hit with one anyway, but baseball bats look just that much more lethal when a horseshoe is nailed onto the end or when metal spikes are stuck all over the body. An ice pick, nunchucks (or at least I think they were nunchucks), brass knuckles, and other charming instruments of death and destruction are also on display.
A giant camera from 1910 used for mug shots, taken sometimes as a group photo, is on display close to actual mug shots from the early 1900s. The mug shots are neat in what they reveal about the times: people were allowed to wear their hats in some of them, including a woman with an enormous black hat and veil, and the back of the pictures describes their physical characteristics. The same exhibit room also has a real barbershop pole next to a recreated fortune teller’s store front window. Next door to the fortune teller is the window of a fabric store. Why? I have no idea, but I love it. A parking meter and lamppost can be found on the periphery of the room for no discernable reason.
If you’re feeling generous, the suggested admission is $5. If more people paid it, maybe they could buy some explanatory signage, so I hope you’ll pony up on your visit for the good of future generations.