As a young adult, I rarely find myself exploring the children’s exhibit of a museum. But with the help of Julie Bose, Executive Director of the New York City Police Museum, and Sgt. Veronica Willis, coordinator of the museum’s school bookings and group tours, I found my inner child in the Junior Officers Discovery Zone.
The museum’s Discovery Zone opened last week after almost two years in the making with collaboration from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Upon entering the open room, I truly felt like a kid again. I was surrounded by oversized police cars, police officer costumes, and a police station funhouse complete with viewfinders and a slide!
What makes this exhibit really successful is its ability to reach out to various age groups. Younger children will have a blast with the police cars—they can turn the lights on and get the sirens blaring. The magnet board is a great way for younger kids to learn about the different types of officers and the equipment they use.(I figured out that the police officer in scuba gear belongs on the harbor unit!)
Meanwhile, older children can head over to the Academy and learn what it takes to become a New York City police officer. The physical challenge tests your strength by how many times you can run across a set of steps in 30 seconds. I decided to sit this one out and let Sgt. Willis demonstrate the test for me. A fingerprint station lets you examine your own prints and determine what type they are (mine are loopy!), and a memory test challenges older children to recall the scene of a crime as an officer might have to.
As Julie pointed out, this exhibit integrates “real stuff” alongside “fun stuff”, making the Discovery Zone both a learning center and a giant playroom. The Emergency Services truck with its sirens and flashing lights keeps the kids entertained, but inside they can see actual NYPD uniforms, as well as all the equipment an Emergency Services truck carries.
The Police Museum’s Discovery Zone is a great place for young children to play and learn. The museum offers special programming for school groups, or you can stop by and check out the exhibit with your family. The museum is located at 100 Old Slip and is open 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and 12 to 5 PM on Sundays.