300 Stewart Ave., Las Vegas, NV, 89101
Type: Museums And Exhibits
With the city's reputation as a world-class destination, it's hard to believe that less than 30 years ago hotels in Vegas were still run by the mob. The scenes depicted in the Martin Scorsese film "Casino," weren't just good film writing. That was Vegas. Visitors can learn all about the city's sordid past at the Mob Museum located in the heart of downtown Vegas on Stewart Avenue and Third Street (right by Main Street Station).
The $42-million museum features interactive exhibits and artifacts that teach visitors all about the most notorious gangsters in Vegas, the history of the mafia and how organized crime impacted the rest of America and the world. Designed by the same team that created the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C, the mob museum depicts an all-encompassing view of mobsters from their rise to prominence in Vegas to how law enforcement initiatives led to their demise. Not only do guests get to learn about the history of the mob, but they get a chance to do so while standing in one of the places where some of those events occurred. The 41,000-square-foot museum features 16,000 square feet of exhibit space that spans three floors. It's located inside the former federal courthouse where the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings were held. The restored courthouse is one of the last remaining historical buildings in Vegas.
The Kefauver Committee, also known as the United State Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, was created by Senator Estes Kefauver. Inside the dimly-lit courtroom guests can see clips of the same hearings that Americans saw when organized crime was just starting to gain mainstream national attention.
The museum features other law enforcement exhibits including a wire-tapping station where you can listen in on actual conversations from the past. You can also see testimonies of FBI agents on audio-visual panel (AVP) screens and try your aim with an FBI firearms training simulator.
Apart from the legal measures taken against organized crime, the museum offers plenty of exhibits that focus on the mobsters. The most valuable artifact in the museum is the brick wall from Chicago's Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929. There are also exhibits that showcase items that belonged to Al Capone, Charlie Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin Siegel, Sam Giancana, Frank Rosenthal, Mickey Cohen and Tony Spilotro, among others.
The museum doesn't omit any details, including the gory ones. Some of the exhibits feature weapons and graphic photos of deceased mob members found at crime scenes. There's a swanky theater room where you can take a seat in one of the plush booths and see clips from all your favorite gangster movies that portray a more romanticized version of life as a mobster.
If you want a memento from you visit, the museum has a large gift shop with everything from key chains to tuxedo-printed baby onesies.