The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement
300 Stewart Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Sunday through Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
- Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
They don’t call us Sin City for nothing! No wonder the tourist line “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” has proven so successful: Vegas is the vacation people don’t always want to tell stories about.
Oh, but what fascinating stories there are! All the “controversial” activities round these parts have attracted more than their fair share of unsavory elements to our glittering city. You know what we’re talking about: the mob. If you’re interested in exploring this rich and interesting — if not chilling and haunting — topic, may we suggest you visit the newly opened National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, most commonly just called The Mob Museum.
The USA Today travel section put it perfectly in its write-up: “The Las Vegas Mob Museum is a hit, man.”
What you can expect:
A modern, interactive set up.
The museum is a modern multimedia, multisensory, multi-modal experience. It’s the participatory, interactive elements that are the most fun: firing a simulated machine gun, standing in a police line-up and getting a mug shot taken, engaging in FBI-style surveillance, even sitting in actual electric chair used to execute hundreds of prisoners. But you’ll find the dynamic exhibits tell their stories through many different media: artifacts, photos, videos, displays, real audio recordings, and more.
The creative director, Dennis Barrie, is an experienced hand at cultivating interactive museum experiences. He worked with the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. He designed the Mob Museum to tell a compelling story from two competing perspectives — law enforcement and the criminal element.
Among the many exhibits:
- Bringing down the Mob
- Organized Crime Around the World
- Myths of the Mob
- Sin City
- The Game Continues
Plus, one great thing about this museum: you can take photos!
An immersive experience.
The museum is housed inside the old, restored Post Office/Court House in downtown Vegas. It’s the same spot where Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver held hearing — which he did in 14 cities nationwide — in 1950–51 in order to expose and control organized crime and its activities. As you watch videos and read about these hearings, you’ll sit in the actual rooms used. “We do consider the building to be really our ultimate artifact,” says Jonathan Ullman, the museum’s Executive Director.
The Mob Museum also offers some cool artifacts from the height of the mob era. For example, the museum hosts part of the wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, against which is projected a video about the terrible February 14 event.
A sizable, lengthy tour of the struggle between law enforcement and organized crime.
We recommend allowing at least two hours to tour, and frankly you should probably set aside the entire afternoon. You could easily spent 60 to 90 minutes per floor, and there are three floors. It depends on how thorough you are in doing all the reading, absorbing the exhibits and participating in the interactive elements. The crowd will also make a difference: if the museum is packed, you might have to wait a few minutes just to get up to the next exhibit close enough to read the write-up.
A few warnings:
Exercise discretion in bringing children.
Many of the exhibits are graphic. In particular, you’ll find photos of actual mob hits, and they’re not pretty. In fact, even grown-ups may hesitate at some of them. If you do take pre-teens, we suggest asking the staff for suggestions which exhibits would be best to bypass or hurry through.
There’s a lot of reading.
While the museum has a lot of cool artifacts, photos, and interactive exhibits on display, most of what you’ll be perusing are photos and write-ups. Also, not quite everything is labeled, so you might sometimes wonder what you’re looking at. (The museum is working on this; it’s the unfortunate result of the museum being less than a year old and opening behind schedule).
To get to the museum:
Parking is available on the west side of the building for $5
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Image courtesy of http://themobmuseum.org/.