The entrance to the Vancouver Police Museum

Your Vancouver Police Museum Visitors Guide

If you’re a fan of murder mystery novels or television forensic science dramas, then the Vancouver Police Museum is just the attraction for you.

It’ll give you a rare firsthand look at the history of crime, law enforcement and forensic science in the City of Vancouver.

We’re here to provide you with all the information you need to ensure that you have a truly arresting experience on your visit to this unconventional attraction.

But before we get started I’d like to point out that it’s not a crime to use the comment section below for any additional questions or comments you have regarding your visit. I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Now lets get the show on the road.

Index

  1. Overview
  2. History
  3. How to Get There
  4. Hours
  5. Prices
  6. Vancouver Police Museum Coupon
  7. Exhibits
  8. Tours
  9. Events
  10. Visitor Tips
  11. FAQs

The Vancouver Police Museum

The front of the Vancouver Police Museum

Nestled at the crossroads of historic Gastown and Chinatown, the Vancouver Police Museum recounts the history of crime, forensics and law enforcement in Vancouver.

It allows visitors to inspect a collection of over 20,000 rare artifacts, photos and archival documents, including:

  • Confiscated firearms, counterfeit money and illicit drugs
  • Police equipment (handcuffs, firearms and communication equipment)
  • Police badges, insignias and uniforms
  • Old mugshots, newspaper clippings and criminal records
  • Preserved human organs from victims of crime

The items are distributed throughout various galleries, including; the Sins Gallery, the True Crimes Gallery, the Never Forgotten Gallery and the Behind the Lines Gallery.

In addition, the museum offers a variety of guided tours and education programs that are sure to bring out the buddying detective in anyone!

Whether you’d like to learn about notable historical crimes or the ins and outs of forensics, this unique museum is definitely a must visit attraction for fans of mystery, murder and intrigue.

History

The museum is located in a stunning heritage building that was constructed in 1932. The site was home to the city’s coroners court, morgue and autopsy facility until 1980 when they were relocated to a larger venue.

The VPM initially opened its doors in 1986, making it the oldest Police Museum in North America. It’s operated by the non-profit Vancouver Police Historical Society, with the aim of educating the public and honouring the sacrifices of the city’s law enforcement officers.

The museum has gone on to become a popular attraction with tourists and locals alike, and is one of our favourite things to do in Vancouver.

How to Get There

Address: 240 East Cordova Street

The Vancouver Police Museum and Archives is located right on the fringes of Gastown and Chinatown, making it easily accessible from the downtown core.

If you’re taking the Skytrain, it’s about a 15 minute walk from Waterfront Station. However, if you already happen to be visiting Gastown, the museum is just a short 5-7 minute walk from Maple Tree Square.

For custom directions click on the link to Google Maps above,

Walking

The directions from Waterfront Station are as follows:

  1. Exit the station and take a left along West Cordova Street.
  2. Simply follow W. Cordova for around 1 kilometre, it’ll eventually turn into East Cordova.
  3. Once you’ve past Main Street continue on for half a block and you will see the Vancouver Police Museum on the South side of the street, on your right.

The Police museum is located beside the Police Station, on the edge of the Downtown Eastside (DTES), which is Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood.

While we don’t personally find the area dangerous, many visitors are uncomfortable being confronted with the homelessness and addiction which is unfortunately quite prevalent in the area.

We’d recommend avoiding Hastings Street on your journey for this reason. Just remember, the Police Station is only a block away, so it is the safest area in the neighbourhood.

Public Transportation

The Police Museum is easily accessible using either the #4 Powell Street or #7 Nanaimo Station buses. The directions from Waterfront Station can be found below:

  1. Enter a Skytrain station that services the Canada or Expo line and purchase a one zone ticket ($3.00 or $2.40 with Compass Card). Board a train bound for Waterfront Station, it’ll be the terminus station on both lines. 
  2. Upon reaching Waterfront, walk upstairs and depart the station via the main exit for West Cordova Street. Cross the street and take a left until you reach the first bus stop.
  3. Board either the #4 Powell Street or #7 Nanaimo Station buses. Your fare is still valid! 
  4. Stay aboard until you reach Main Street and exit the bus. Walk half a block East on E. Cordova and you will see the Vancouver Police Museum on your right.

For more information on the Vancouver public transportation system, visit our Vancouver Public transport guide.

For schedules check out Translink.

Driving

For those who’ve got their own vehicles, driving may be the easiest way to visit the Police Museum. Custom directions can be found here.

Vancouver Police Museum Parking

The museum is on the smaller side and has minimal parking available. As a result you’ll likely be forced to park on the street.

We’d recommend visiting the Vancouver page at Best Parking to find the closest parking at an affordable rate.

Vancouver Police Museum Hours

The Police Museum’s hours of operation are as follows:

9:00am-5:00pm—Tuesday to Saturday

*The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays and statutory holidays

We recommend allotting at least one hour to fully enjoy all of the exhibits. If you intend to take part in one of the popular Sins of the City walking tours, you should budget an extra 90 minutes so you can still see all the attractions.

Vancouver Police Museum Prices

The admission fees for the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives can be found in the table below:

 

  • Adult–$12
  • Senior–$10
  • Students–$10
  • Youth–$8
  • Family–$30

*The family rate includes 2 adults and up to 2 youth

**Children under 5 are free

***Groups of over 10 receive a $2 discount

Exhibits 

The museum is divided up into roughly a half-dozen rooms that house a variety of exhibits which focus on specific topics.

Here we’ll give you with a brief overview of each exhibit, so you aren’t walking in blind.

Forensic Identification

The Foresic Identification exhibit in Vancouver’s former morgue
Instagram: @policemuseum

Perfect for fans of the hit TV series C.S.I, the Forensic Identification Exhibit focuses on the evolution of crime scene investigation and forensic science.

The exhibit is housed in Vancouver’s former morgue and autopsy room, which remains relatively unchanged since being de-commissioned. You can expect to find two stainless steel slabs, a scale for weighing organs and a blackboard for recording data.

Perhaps most notably, the exhibit also houses a collection of preserved organs that show evidence of gun-shot wounds, knife wounds or trauma inflicted by blunt objects.

While definitely not for children, or the squeamish alike, this unique exhibit offers visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore a true morgue environment.

True Crime

The True Crime Exhibit at the Vancouver Police Museum
Instagram: @policemuseum

The True Crime Exhibit is perfect for fans of murder, mystery and intrigue. It houses historical newspaper clippings, photos and crime scene evidence from a variety of Vancouver’s most notorious crimes.

From the infamous “Milkshake Murders” to unsolved cold cases like the famous “Babes in the Woods” murder mystery, the exhibit examines the various investigative and scientific methods used in the city’s most famous cases.

Sins Gallery

The Sins Gallery at the Vancouver Police Museum
Instagram: @policemuseum

The Sins Gallery houses an extensive collection of contraband confiscated from criminals throughout Vancouver’s history. From counterfeit money to drug paraphernalia, it’s all there on display.

The wall of weapons will be of particular interest, displaying numerous firearms obtained during the raids and arrests of Vancouver’s most notorious criminals.

For the kids, there is an extensive display of police uniforms and badges, some of which they can even try on!

Another display allow visitors to test their memory by attempting to create a mug shot of an individual of whom they’ve only been provided a brief glimpse.

If you’re looking for a snap for instagram, the Sins Gallery allows you to take advantage of a rare jail cell photo-op!

Never Forgotten

The Never Forgotten Gallery at the Vancouver Police Museum
Instagram: @policemuseum

In a more somber exhibit, Never Forgotten takes an in depth look at the life, legacy and stories of officers who’ve lost their lives while on duty.

Unfortunately, in the history of the Vancouver Municipal Police Force 16 officers and 8 police dogs have made the ultimate sacrifice to make the city a safer place.

Never Forgotten provides background on these individuals and the incidents that claimed their lives. Visitors will receive further insight on the depth of their sacrifice as explored from three sources; their fellow officers, their families and the public.

One thing is for sure, you’re guaranteed to leave this exhibit with an increased appreciation for the work of police officers.

Sins of the City Walking Tours

The Sins of the City Walking Tour outside the Vancouver Police Museum
Instagram: @policemuseum

The Vancouver Police Museum offers a variety of unconventional walking tours that focus upon the city’s nefarious history of drugs, discrimination, prohibition, sex and scandal.

Offered between April and October, these guided tours walk you through the historic streets of Gastown, Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside to expose you to a side of Vancouver that isn’t mentioned in the history books.

Usually offered on weekends, the cost of the walking tours also includes free admission to the Vancouver Police Museum.

Soul Food and Shotguns

This 90 minute tour takes you through the streets of Gastown, Chinatown and Strathcona to explore the history of Vancouver’s Italian, Chinese and African-Canadian communities.

Your expert guide will captivate you with numerous stories, from tales of deadly shotgun fights, to Jimi Hendrix’s little known Vancouver connection and tales of activism that protested discrimination against these ethnic groups.

Soul Food and Shotguns recounts Vancouver’s cultural history and dramatic transformation from a myopic pioneer outpost to the cosmopolitan metropolis that we now see today.

To learn more, visit the Soul Food and Shotguns page.

Redlight Rendezvous

Learn about a time when sex, prostitution and corruption ruled Vancouver’s streets on this 90 minute tour that aims to lift the veil on a city of scandal.

From the dark dens of Gastown to the hidden alleys of Chinatown, you’ll see how the city’s sex trade dominated the streets and managed to infiltrate the highest levels of society.

For more information, check out the Redlight Rendezvous page.

Vice, Dice and Opium Pipes

Delve into Vancouver’s history of sex, drugs and organized crime on this 90 minute walking tour that takes you walk through the streets of Vancouver’s seedy underbelly.

Learn about Joe Celena, Vancouver’s very own answer to Al Capone. Then visit the bootleggers, brothels and underground casinos that made up his empire.

Afterwards, it’s off to Chinatown where you’ll learn about the endless array of opium dens that attracted the city’s rich and poor alike.

This is definitely like no other walking tour you’ve ever taken.

Check out the Vice, Dice and Opium Pipes page for more information.

Prices

The price of all Sins of the City walking tours are listed below:

  • Adults—$18
  • Students/Seniors—$14

*Admission to the Vancouver Police Museum is included with your walking tour ticket

**Tours only operate between April-October

Vancouver Police Museum Events

A children’s day camp at the Vancouver Police Museum
Instagram: @policemuseum

In addition to the popular Sins of the City walking tours, the Police Museum is also known to hold a variety of special events throughout the year.

Typically these include a variety of After Dark events, which are catered towards adults and even include a full bar. Recent examples include the popular Night Court trivia night and Paranormal Investigations, a VIP ghost hunting experience.

However, there are also often events aimed at children, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

To see what is being offered while you’re in town hit up the Vancouver Police Museum’s events page.

Vancouver Police Museum Visitor Tips

Before we bring this article to a close, we’ll leave you with a few key tips to make sure you enjoy your visit to the Vancouver Police Museum as much as we did.

1) Budget at least an hour

The museum isn’t huge by any means, but the interactive and engaging exhibits will be sure to peak your interest.

Many visitors end up taking an hour or two to thoroughly investigate the various exhibits.

2) Go early in the day

While the Police Museum doesn’t tend to get  completely overrun by visitors, it’s located in a fairly small building, so even a moderate crowd can make it feel a little cramped.

Many visitors in the Summertime have noted that the building lacks air conditioning. This can make it quite warm once the crowd begins to arrive in the early afternoon.

Going earlier in the day can serve to mitigate these factors and will ensure that you have more time to enjoy yourself in relative peace.

3) Take a walking tour

The Police Museum also offers a variety of unconventional walking tours of surrounding top Vancouver neighbourhoods like Gastown, Chinatown and Strathcona.

The Sins of the City tours tell the story of Vancouver’s past from a perspective rarely discussed in the history books.

The best part is the cost of a walking tour includes free admission to the Vancouver Police Museum, making it one of the better deals in the city.

4) Visit neighbouring Chinatown and Gastown

The Police Museum is located right at the crossroads of Vancouver’s two most historic neighbourhoods.

We highly recommend visiting the museum as part of a larger Vancouver itinerary that includes the attractions and landmarks located within these districts.

For more information on what these neighbourhoods have to offer, check out our Gastown and Chinatown neighbourhood guides.

6) Stay safe

Though it is located right across from the Police Station, the Police Museum also sits on the fringes of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the city’s poorest neighbourhood.

Though you are unlikely to experience problems, we recommend avoiding East Hastings Street if you are walking to the Police Museum.

If you are particularly uncomfortable around homelessness or addiction, we’d recommend taking public transit, as described in the section above.

Alternatively, the museum is a short cab ride from Downtown or Gastown, so it shouldn’t prove too costly.

FAQ

Where is the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives located?

The Police Museum is located at 240 East Cordova Street at the crossroads of Gastown and Chinatown.

How much is admission to the Vancouver Police Museum?

Entry costs $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, $8 for children(6-8) or $30 for families (2 adults+2children).

When is the Vancouver Police Museum open?

The Police Museum is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on Tuesday to Saturday. The museum is closed on Monday and Sunday.

I’m po-liced to say that this just about brings us to the end this visitors guide.

I hope I’ve answered any questions you may’ve had concerning your prospective visit to the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives.

But remember, asking questions isn’t a crime!

So if there is anything else you’d like to know, be it about the Police Museum, or something else Vancouver related, just hit us up in the comments below or on our Facebook Page.

I’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as possible!

Thanks for your time,

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