I’m kind of a sucker for odd museums. I like ALL museums, but I REALLY love the unusual ones. So I decided to check out a little one out that’s in the middle of downtown Portland: the Portland Police Museum. It’s inside the police station and it’s free, so I stopped by one my way to work one afternoon this week.
Mostly this is a history museum, the first section when you walk in is a collection of documents and photos about the first years of the Portland Police department. Remember, Portland was a part of the “Wid West” so there were a lot of fugitives, criminals and shady characters in town. The city’s first building was a jail! So that should tell you something. It was fun to read through the history about how the police played a role in the development of the city. You can read jail logs and see some excellent old fashioned mug shots.
Along with all the documents and history are cases of the badges, uniforms, guns and handcuffs that have been used over the years. I learned that for a long time officers had to supply their own gun, so there was a lot of variety based on fashion, peer pressure and price. Along with police guns, there’s a case of weapons that have been confiscated over the years, including a real pipe bomb that was used in an attempt to blow up an Oregonian truck!
But the biggest reason to visit the museum is for the kids. While there are a lot of photos and history for adults, there’s also bunch of fun stuff for kids. There’s a jail cell to play in, a motorcycle with sidecar they can sit on, uniforms to try and a bomd squad robot to check out. Plus I bet looking at all the guns and handcuff would be cool too.
One nice thing about this museum, it’s not a huge time commitment. Even if you read every word in the place and let the kids play, you’ll be there for 30-45 minutes MAX. It’s a small museum, but a fun little stop while exploring downtown. And don’t forget- it’s free!
PORTLAND POLICE MUSEUM
1111 SW 2ND AVE (Between SW Madison & SW Main)
10am-3pm Tuesday- Friday