The Vancouver Police Museum
They call it an arresting experience.
See—it’s a pun. Because it’s a police museum. And it’s got a ton of crazy stuff there, like thousands of police artifacts, photos, and documents. It’s been entertaining people by showing them the dark side of Vancouver since it opened in 1986, which marked the centennial of the city’s police force.
Welcome to The Vancouver Police Museum.
Located in an 85-year-old building that used to be a functioning morgue, you can now find an exhibit dissecting the town’s most famous murders (see what we did there? Dissecting?) or another exhibit depicting the ways in which a person can die (the props include a real human brain with a bullet hole in it).
The nonprofit runs on about $200,000 a year and attracts more than 15,000 visitors annually. It’s even been used in an episode of The X-Files.
One room contains all the weapons confiscated by the force over the past decades. You’ll see everything from guns to knives, brass knuckles to bats—and, of course, a few stranger objects too. One looked like two bowling balls with spikes coming out of them attached to a chain.
Then there are the skulls from the Babes in the Woods case.
In 1953, the skeletons of two young children (two boys between the ages of 6 and 10) were found in Stanley Park. Also nearby was a shoe, a lunch box, and other items. It was thought the children had been bludgeoned to death seven to nine years earlier with a hatchet that was found in the area.
The case went, as they now say, viral.
And now, on display in the museum, are the skulls, along with more bones and the hatchet that killed them. The case remains unsolved.
Visitors can also wander into a room that perfectly resembles the one where Errol Flynn (who portrayed Robin Hood on the big screen in 1938) had his autopsy in 1959. After traveling to Vancouver to sell his yacht, Flynn was found dead in a penthouse in the West End.
When it came time for the autopsy, the local pathologist found warts on Flynn’s private area, so he cut them off for examination. That proved to be a problem, as Flynn’s body was also scheduled to have a second examination back in Los Angeles.
It is rumored that the pathologist was told to put the warts back on Flynn, so that’s what he did. He reattached the warts—using tape.
In another story involving pathologists, there is a perfectly round bullet hole in a nearby glass window.
As the story goes, a pathologist was working one night to determine the death of a body, and he suspected foul play. Just then, a shot came through the window, narrowly missing the pathologist. It was later discovered that the shot came from the man who’d killed the victim. He was trying to kill the pathologist to further cover-up his crime.
Before leaving, everyone should try the sketch artist station, where folks can climb up and try their hand at sketching themselves or someone else. Don’t worry—you’re using a computer, not going freehand.
Remember: if you’re making a visit to The Vancouver Police Museum today, there’s no need to be frightened.
The only time to worry was if you made a visit 85 years ago—back when it was a working morgue and you’d come in on a slab.
By Ryan Clark, contributor for Ripleys.com