What was it like to wear a badge in 1845 in New York City? What was it like to serve as a city marshal in a small western town in 1861?
Walk through the history of these officers and see the badges they wore, some to their very death. Examine the historic firearms, nightsticks and billies, uniforms and other equipment used to perform those duties to the best of their abilities, for you and I.
Imagine for just a moment what it was like to perform the duties of a lawman in the wild west. They rode horses then and carried six-guns. They had no flashlight to light the dark night and no radio to call for help when everything has gone wrong. The job was dangerous then, just as it is today, and those officers of yesterday paved the way for those holding the line right now.
There is no other like it, anywhere!
The museum features one of, if not the largest and finest, private national law enforcement historical collections assembled. With a collection spanning 300 years of our history, there is no other like it, anywhere. Our collection provides a walk through the history of preserving the peace throughout our time since the colonial days of this land. Guests are treated to historical badges, documents, and photographs, along with uniforms, antique firearms, restraints and other historic tools of the profession.
THE GIST COLLECTION
Walt Gist thought, as he held that precious metal badge in his hand, that some man had worn that symbol of authority with pride, and that it needed to be preserved and honored. That momentary thought in 1954 began what would become this magnificent museumin 2005
The museum’s primary collection is the Gist Collection. Walt Gist, having served as Chief of Police in Kensington, California, began his quest for law enforcement history in 1954 when he found a sterling silver badge on a table at a flea market. He purchased that badge, knowing some proud officer wore it, and that began his lifelong passion for the law enforcement profession and its history. The collection includes documents issued by the High Sheriff from the Colonies in 1714 to many first issue law enforcement badges from the major cities of the United States. Thousands of antique photographs of law enforcement officers dating back to the Civil War days offer guests a glimpse back in our past as they walk through the days bringing us to modern policing here. The museum collection includes just so much of our national law enforcement history that it cannot be described here. You will have to see for yourself.
1876 STOREY COUNTY JAIL
What was it like to be locked up in the 1870s?
The museum is set in the 1876 Storey County Jail, a wonderful and very appropriate site for the museum. With two tiers and ten steel cells, it was once the largest jail in the State of Nevada when built. But then again, Virginia City was the largest city in the state, as well. Storey County used this facility, as their jail for 110 years, from 1877 until 1987. It was our good fortune that local government leaders had always wanted a museum within the jail.
VISITING OFFICERS BOARD
Leave your mark here for all others wearing the badge to share.
Past and present peace officers from around the globe leave their written comments and signatures on our Visiting Officer Board. Enjoy looking for names you may know from your own agency. It happens all the time!
OLD TIME UNIFORM PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES
Step into the uniform of yesteryear!
Last but not least, our visitors have a great opportunity to dress up in 1800s period uniforms and stand in front of an old patrol wagon backdrop for a step back into time photo shoot. No cost involved because you use your own camera!
On the way out, visit the museum store. It is filled with law enforcement and museum related items so there is something for everyone.
POLICE MEMORIAL WEEK PARADE
ANNUAL NEVADA POLICE MEMORIAL RIDE
COPS & CUSTOMS CAR SHOW
POLICE MEMORIAL WEEK PARADE
The Silver State National Peace Officers Museum recognizes Police Memorial Week each May by hosting the annual Police Memorial Week Parade here in Virginia City. It is a celebration of the law enforcement profession while taking the time to recognize and remember our fallen officers from the current year, as well as back though history. All agencies are invited to participate and those participants include vintage police vehicles, motors, modern vehicles, bagpipers, drummers, color guards and honor guards, mounted officers, and K-9 officers to name just a few. More information and registration forms may be found here:
NEVADA POLICE MEMORIAL RIDE
Motorcycle riders will want to sign up for the Second Annual Nevada Police Memorial Ride from the Nevada LE Memorial in Carson City to Virginia City to kick off the Police Memorial Week Parade.
COPS & CUSTOMS CAR SHOW
The Cops & Customs Car Show is being held in conjunction with the Police memorial Week Parade, Nevada Police Memorial Ride, and BBQ at the museum on Saturday, May 9th, 2015. Registration is open to all classic and modified cars along with vintage emergency vehicles.
Visit our VEHICLES OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PAGE.
See 2014 parade photos here: 2014 PARADE
The museum frequently brings new or updated exhibits to our visitors. We have just identified two different officers that our first issue Oakland, California badge had been assigned to in the early 1800s. Learn more about this great new exhibit on our EXHIBIT PAGE.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT
This museum is operated privately and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit museum We are in need of support to insure our continued operation for generations to come. Please consider supporting us through donations or volunteer involvement.
Open May 1st through November 1st, daily from 11:00 to 5:00.
The musuem is open daily from 11:00 to 5:00 from May 1st until November 1st. It is located at 26 South B Street inside the county courthouse.
MUSEUM PAGE LINKS
Along with visiting those pages listed at the top of this page, perhaps you would also like to tour these pages:
An officer dies on the streets of America once every 53 hours on average.
The museum, with support from the Nevada Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and James D. Hoff Peace Officers Memorial, has been producing a very moving production on line of duty deaths and the incredible impacts upon survivors. EVERY 53 HOURS has now been completed after more than a year of work. We hope you will find it informative to say the least. Please follow the link to watch Every 53 Hours.
"There is no higher calling than that of a policeman. I would rather be a policeman than President." - August Vollmer
There is not a more honorable and necessary profession than law enforcement. The "peace keepers" across our great nation perform a duty that few could or would do for a living. It is dangerous, difficult, and certainly very unpopular with many. It demands greatly but rewards just as well with the satisfaction an officer feels every time that he or she makes a difference somehow, be it saving a life, solving a crime, or having a positive impact on a citizen in some way. No person can adequately profess to know what the law enforcement profession's impacts and demands are unless that person has done the job, period. The museum experience provides a step into the lives of officers from the streets of America.