Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: History Beat

Artist's rendering of the History Beat exhibit. 
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Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: History Beat

The History Beat pavilion will be an elegant, transparent, and inviting glass and steel structure where visitors can learn more about issues that have continuing relevance to American law enforcement and American society. By learning about the stories of historic objects carefully selected from the Museum’s collection—from law enforcement uniforms to vehicles and equipment used by law officers throughout history—visitors will gain a greater understanding of the ever-changing and evolving law enforcement profession. 

As they enter the History Beat, visitors may first notice the hard-to-miss ca. 1928-31 Model A Ford on display. But as they explore the space, the eclectic mix of objects located in artifact cases on the back wall may be next to catch their attention. Visitors might wonder about the importance of a carte de visite (a small photograph) of an 1870s Ku Klux Klan member and how it might relate to a late 19th century police coat or an early 1990s ATF helmet, but they will soon discover each artifact can provide an entry point into understanding an important aspect of American law enforcement.

As visitors draw closer, they can push a button on a small rail to learn more about the evocative objects displayed.  A single touch will put into motion an almost magical transformation as hidden doors slide across each of the unselected objects until the chosen object stands alone. A projection will then fill the surrounding wall, and a short film will play. This audio visual presentation will examine the full meaning of the chosen object—starting with the basic facts of its creation or use, and moving on to make connections between it and a larger theme in law enforcement history.

This exhibit has been generously funded by a $2 million gift from GLOCK, Inc., an Austrian company that has sold pistols to American law enforcement agencies since 1986. Today, 65% of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. carry pistols made by GLOCK, making the company a significant part of the history and innovation of the law enforcement profession.


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