The Mob Museum Las Vegas is a natural for Sin City. After all, the city wouldn’t be the haven of gaming and fun in the desert it is today if it weren’t for the influence of some made men. However, the focus of the museum, which opened in 2012, is about more than just the men in the mob. The National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement looks at both sides of the story.
The museum is in downtown Las Vegas, a short drive from the Strip. This is separate from the Mob Experience at the Tropicana (which filed for bankruptcy in 2011), but it tells a similar story, and visitors who are interested in the history of the mafia in America will find this one just as enticing. The new Mob Museum in Las Vegas gives an insider’s view of the battle between good and bad, even if it wasn’t always clear who was on which side.
Even the location of the museum has a historical element to it: The Mob Museum occupies what was once a federal building that included a post office and courthouse, which was the site of the Kefauver Hearings on organized crime in the early 1950s. It’s one of the few buildings in Las Vegas with such deep historical roots and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Whether you’re newly curious about Las Vegas history or you’ve seen Goodfellas a hundred times, a visit to the Mob Museum will prove interesting. There’s a fascinating tale to tell, and beyond that, the museum brings up the storytelling to a higher level. Its state of the art exhibits put you right in the middle of the story. As you pass through the themed areas you’ll find rare artifacts—including the reassembled brick wall from the St Valentine’s Day massacre—multimedia presentations, and other interactive elements that transport you into this fascinating historical world.
One of the coolest exhibits at the Mob Museum Las Vegas takes advantage of the building itself and carefully re-creates the actual courtroom where the Kefauver Committee held its hearings. In 1950 and 1951, Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver led a committee to investigate organized crime in America, holding hearings in fourteen cities, one of which was Las Vegas. Learning about the committee hearings in the exact building they took place is one of the most astonishing aspects of exploring the Mob Museum, as it puts visitors truly right in the middle of things.
You can decide for yourself if this worked as you view the exhibit that looks at the mob’s current influence around the world. But one thing is sure, the hearings all around the country are a direct link to Las Vegas’ rise, as the legal gaming is directly tied to these hearings: Many states passed anti-gaming laws afterward, and the gambling operators moved to Nevada, as it was the only state where gambling was still legal.
You’ll meet the characters who shaped this aspect of Las Vegas history. Some came to blow off a little steam, others came to the desert seeking to build their fortunes, and still others brandished a badge and sought justice. Men like Carlo Gambino, Moe Dalitz and Bugsy Siegel figure prominently into the exhibits at the Mob Museum Las Vegas. Of course no mention of the mob is ever complete without Al Capone, and he’s there too.
The names of the lawmen, like J. Edgar Hoover and Elliot Ness are just as familiar. They’re an important part of the story and of the exhibits at the Mob Museum Las Vegas. The museum has worked with the FBI and famous undercover agents such as Joe Pistone who made their careers infiltrating the crime families. The Bringing Down the Mob exhibit, for instance, focuses on how important wiretapping was to investigating and prosecuting organized crime.
The Mob Museum is at 300 E Stewart Ave in downtown Las Vegas, between N Las Vegas Boulevard and S Main Street, and just south of the Veterans Memorial Highway. To get there from the heart of the Strip, you can either drive on Las Vegas Boulevard the entire way, or take Interstate 15 north to Highway 93 and take the exit for N Casino Center Boulevard. You can also get a cab or a bus if you don't have your own transportation.
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The Las Vegas Mob Museum is sure to become one of the city’s great things to do; because it’s so close to the Las Vegas Strip, it isn’t difficult to get here, even if you don’t have a rental car. A cab ride won’t cost much, and buses are an even cheaper option. The Mob Museum’s hours are Sundays through Thursdays, 10 am to 7 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 8 pm. Tickets are $19.95, with discounts available for students, seniors, children, members of the military, teachers, and Nevada residents.