On the wall off one room, visitors learn what types of boys (always boys!) become mobsters. Another room--decorated like an old-fashioned family parlor--displays framed family pictures of famous mobsters. Another exhibit on life in the mob features a video of actor playing a mobster speaking to an initiate, describing the process of becoming a "made man" and explaining what that means.
A small movie-theater themed room showcases the gangster movie genre, with a screen showing clips from famous films and a display case filled with costumes.
Despite the nostalgia-tinged atmosphere of the building and early exhibits, the museum does showcase the viciousness of the mob; exhibits on murder weapons, victims, and those left behind illustrate the cost in lives. Other exhibits point out the loss in tax revenue and general quality-of-life issues the mob leaves in its wake. The museum has managed to obtain the original wall, bullet holes marked in red, from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago; it is displayed behind a plexiglass sheet so visitors can photograph themselves standing against the wall. A short film on the massacre plays every few minutes.
Another exhibit diagrams the web of influence the mob has over political, social, and economic spheres of American life.
"The Museum: a Temple or the Forum," Duncan F. Cameron's 1971 essay on museum design, divided museums into temples, which presented artifacts as objects of veneration, and those that resembled a forum, inviting debate and discussion on the topics presented. The Mob Museum's promotional materials--"There are two sides to every story--and then there's the truth"--suggest they're aiming for a forum here: It's difficult to see how one could debate the moral or the message to be gained from an exploration of organized crime, but The Mob Museum does introduce the conflict between rights and law enforcement with a display on lawyer Oscar Goodman, who successfully represented several mobsters and served as the mayor of Las Vegas, debating the ethics of representing mobsters. Goodman was also a major promoter of the museum when opponents originally denounced it as a poor use of taxpayer money.
|Entry to Apalachin Meeting display|
techniques and technology, and even Dick Tracy cartoons. Real-life heroes in the fight against the mob are showcased, and a large exhibit retells the story of the Apalachin Meeting of 1957--a conference of New York's crime bosses that was raided by state police. The raid changed the way Americans and the FBI looked at the mob, forcing them to acknowledge not only its existence (many, including J.Edgar Hoover, denied that there was any such thing as the Mafia operating in the U.S.) but its extensive reach.
|Howard Hughes and Las Vegas|
|Visitors are invited to share their own stories of interaction with the Mob|
The gift shop has a large selection of humorous items--tee shirts, caps, shot glasses shaped like Prohibition-era mugs--along with movie posters. and DVDs. Books on the mob provide more serious fare. A small snack stand rounds out the experience. I do wish the museum could find a way to squeeze in a 50s era diner--perhaps even just a counter downstairs in the basement.
From the MuseumWebsite:
HOURS OF OPERATIONSundays – Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Please note that these times are subject to change due to private event bookings. We suggest that you contact the box office at 702-229-2734 before your visit to verify hours.
General Admission Prices for Individuals
|Children (5-17 w/ID)** & Students (18-23 w/ID)||$13.95|
|Seniors (65+), Military, Law Enforcement, Teachers (w/ID)||$15.95|
|Nevada Residents (w/ID)||$10|