Develop a renewed appreciation for the men and women who serve the city and keep its residents safe by visiting these museums.
The Toledo Police Museum
2201 Kenwood Boulevard
Housed in the former Ottawa Park Nature Center, the Toledo Police Museum showcases the history of the local police department.
The museum first opened on September 11, 1985 with the late Officer Kenneth Deck at the helm, then closed its doors in 1994. It reopened on June 9, 2011 when Chief Michael Navarre directed Toledo Police Department’s Planning and Research Section to restore the museum and its contents.
Here you’ll find several permanent and rotating exhibits that will show you what life was like on duty. See how police officers braved extreme weather just to get to a call box or how they used to hitch rides with passing cars to stop an ongoing robbery.
Get to know some of the colorful characters who have played a role in the police department’s history, from its celebrated police chiefs to Owney the postal dog. Learn about the death penalty in Toledo and several historic convictions that brought criminal offenders to the electric chair, which was called “Old Sparky” by the department.
There are interactive displays that will let you have your mugshot taken with a 1920s booking camera, get locked up in a mock jail cell, and examine a replica of a 1948 police wagon and other historical artifacts.
Virtual exhibits can be viewed here.
The museum also hosts festive events throughout the year. Check out the annual Cops and Rodders Car Show, hailed as the best car show in the Toledo metro area. The organizers serve donuts and coffee, and prizes are given out to raffle winners.
The museum is open Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free. For inquiries, call 419-720-2485.
Toledo Firefighters Museum
918 W Sylvania Avenue
Founded in 1976, the museum is devoted to preserving the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department’s history and educating residents on fire safety. Located just minutes from downtown, it houses an extensive collection in a charming two-story brick building with a bright red door and window frames.
Marvel at the antique firefighting equipment on display. One of the highlights of the museum is “Neptune,” an 1837 model that served as the city’s first fire pumper and which has been painstakingly restored by local firefighters.
There’s also a tape register and a watchman’s desk on exhibit, along with firefighters’ sleeping quarters.
Other items on display include vintage photos, old uniforms, antique firefighter-themed toys, journals, and scrapbooks that will give you a glimpse of the department’s storied past.
The museum has also added an exhibit dedicated to the 9/11 attacks. This includes a painting by renowned firefighter artist Paul Zurawski and a memorial for Henry S. Plowman, a Washington DC firefighter who succumbed to cancer as a result of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Plowman’s uniform and helmet are on display.
The second floor serves as an educational center where you can participate in role play situations that revolve around fire prevention and safety. Areas designated as “Fireman Freddy’s Fire Station” and “Jed’s Bedroom” will show you how to test smoke detectors, plan escape routes from your home, examine doors for heat, and more.
Admission is free but donations are accepted. For inquiries, call 419-478-3473.