The Mob Museum ~ Las Vegas 2013
Touring a campy museum that has a weird theme is a tradition in itself, especially when meandering across the country while on vacation. Route 66 definitely is like the hall of fame for museums that feature the odd and the strange. Every big city also seems to have a token local museum that features an alternative theme of one kind or another and Las Vegas is no exception. There are several odd museums in Las Vegas that celebrate subject matter that would be taboo nearly anywhere else and the most famous is the Mob Museum. The Mob Museum presents the other side of American organized crime history, so this destination is definitely family friendly, if you know what I am saying!
Las Vegas certainly is a last vestige of freedom these days and the cultural exhibits reflect upon the shady wild traditions that this city is famous for. Las Vegas is the home of the one and only Mob Museum in the world. There is no better choice of host city for a Mob Museum, because modern Las Vegas basically was founded by the Italian Mafia back in the days when Hoover Dam was being built. Las Vegas became Sin City, because the mob conducted a showcase of businesses that catered to what people really wanted to experience. The mob influence ensured that liberties like gambling, brothels and alcoholic beverage sales continued in the State Of Nevada well into the future.
America did not originally start off as a tame orderly colony. America has always had a wild side that has always thumbed the nose at strict authoritarian rule. Most citizens never wanted any kind of prohibition or restrictions on civil liberties in this country at any time, but regardless of what the majority preferred, laws were set in place by special interest groups to curb problematic social trends, which in turn opened the door for illicit enterprises to flourish. When acts of prohibition became commonplace, the mob provided the civil liberties that citizens desired. As everybody knows, the goods and services came with a price and the motive for satisfying the needs of citizens was not merely a philanthropic gesture.
There are always two sides to a story and this is the running theme at the Mob Museum. Nearly all mob reference material that can be accessed in public libraries is written from a law enforcement point of view. Rarely is the mobster side of the story presented in historical accounts. In keeping with the theme, only a fraction of the space in the Mob Museum is dedicated to the G-Men and law enforcement. The majority of the museum exhibits tell the history of the mob, with a mob point of view that provides insight when reflecting upon the standard law enforcement press release perspective.
When I visited the Mob Museum back in 2013 the museum had just recently opened for business and they were doing many promotions to draw people in. It was Kefauver Day at the Mob Museum and the price of admission was free, so this amounted to an offer that could not be refused! Senator Kefauver once led a U.S. Investigative Committee with the goal of exposing and incriminating members of the mob and the televised hearings were watched worldwide. Of course every suspect pleaded the fifth amendment, so the Kefauver hearings were pretty much a one sided ordeal. Free admission days like Kefauver Day still go on at the Mob Museum, so it pays to check the events calendar when browsing the museum website.
The Mob Museum concept was partnered by the Mayor Of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman. At first, the public reaction was negative, but the mayor was able to win the public trust and he successfully created investment potential. Mayor Oscar Goodman used to be a high profile mafia lawyer, so he was capable of making the Mob Museum plan happen, while ensuring that the theme would present the other side of the story. It took a few months for this museum to catch on and the Mob Museum has since become one of the top attractions in old historic downtown Las Vegas. This success story was accomplished while the Great Recession was at its worst, which says a lot from a social perspective.
For those who are interested in the role that the mafia played in the development of Las Vegas, plenty of floorspace in the Mob Museum is devoted to this action packed subject matter! There are modern interactive displays that allow visitors to experience how casino cheating was accomplished and how counterfeiting gaming chips was a major problem. A full scale historic Arizona Club display allows visitors to step back in time to the days when the Sin City mob operations were first being staked. There is even a Thompson Machine Gun display that gives visitors a chance to play a real “Chicago Organ Grinder!”
The original brick wall that was riddled with bullet holes during the Saint Valentines Day Massacre was disassembled and moved to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas shortly before my visit back in 2013. This iconic piece of Mob history is now one of the most popular spots to take a selfie photo in Las Vegas! In fact, the Mob Museum presents plenty of family oriented selfie opportunities, especially in the police lineup cell!
The Mob Museum has added many more new exhibits since 2013 and the hi tech interactive displays have been expanded. An authentic prohibition era distillery was added and a real mob speakeasy was recently installed in the basement of this historic building, so the old bootlegger days of Las Vegas are back in full swing again. The speakeasy features cocktails designed in honor of the martini master, Mayor Oscar Goodman and live entertainment is offered nightly, which brings another point altogether. The mob has always satisfied the needs of the people and for those who have always wished for a stiff drink while touring a museum are now in luck!
The Mob Museum Gift Shop is stocked full of mob memorabilia that will interest guests of all ages. Everything from Godfather T-Shirts to Mob Museum Poker Chips can be found in this shop. This store even features mob culinary merchandise, like Hit Man Ketchup Guns, Mob Cookbooks and even the authentic original “Mob Meat Tenderizer” can be found here. A Mob Meat Tenderizer looks like brass knuckles, but it really is a unique specialized kitchen tool that no underpaid professional chef should be without!
The Mob Museum is located in the old Federal Building on Stewart Street, across the road from the Mob Bar at the Downtown Grand Casino. For more information about business hours, tours and group rates, the Mob Museum website has all the answers. The entertainment venue for the new Mob Museum Speakeasy is also listed, so lounging with traditional mob style can be part of the tour plan. For those who seek a different kind of museum experience that definitely will not bore you to death, the Mob Museum is the place to go! Those who seek the other side of the story will surely find what they are looking for at the Las Vegas Mob Museum!