I’ve just returned from a few days in Las Vegas to visit my family for Christmas. Among the many activities I did while I was there was visit the recently-opened Mob Museum, also known as the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement.
The museum is located in the old post office building in downtown Las Vegas. Exhibits are arranged on three floors, and visitors can follow a self-guided tour beginning on the 3rd floor, eventually working their way down to the entrance.
The 3rd floor focuses on the history of the mob in the United States, beginning with their ties to then-recent immigrant communities in the 1800s. The mob’s involvement in bootlegging during the prohibition era is especially highlighted, along with law enforcement efforts to bring down notorious criminals such as Al Capone. I learned the origins of one of my favorite activities in the entire world — happy hour. There are also a number of interesting artifacts on display, such as the actual wall from 1920s Chicago that was associated with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
There’s also a replica of the electric chair from Sing Sing Prison, which was used to execute over 600 prisoners, including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and mob boss Louis Buchalter, allegedly the wealthiest man ever to be executed in the United States.
A visit to the second floor begins with a short video on the Kefauver Trials, which took place during the 1950s across the United States, including in the very room where the video was shown. Overall, the second floor of the museum especially focused on the mob’s connections to the history of Las Vegas.
The ground floor looks at the enforcement of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which has paved the way for wire tapping, surveillance, undercover FBI agents and the witness protection program, and has brought down hundreds of criminals since being enacted in 1970.
There’s also a wall of fame (or shame) with notorious mob members from the past 100 years.
The “moral lesson” of the mob museum seemed to be that as long as there is supply and demand for certain items in society, organized criminals will continue to be involved in these money making ventures. Also, if you’re involved in the mob, you could end up dying a bloody, horrible death (and they have pictures to prove it).
It took me about 2.5 hours to see the entire museum, but it took the rest of my especially thorough family around 3.5 hours.
Admission to the museum is $19.95 for most adults, although there are discounts for Nevada residents, children, students, military personnel and senior citizens. Parking next to the museum costs $5 per car, although my family parked for free at the Main Street Station and walked the 1/4 mile to the museum.
There is also a great gift shop on site with all things mob-related, including Mob Museum martini glasses and a whole section devoted to dog toys and costumes. Most impressive was their book collection, with titles ranging from Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman’s Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas to Criminal Crafts: Outlaw Projects for Scoundrels, Cheats, and Armchair Detectives.
Although there is a small food cart onsite, dining options are limited beyond small snacks, so if you’re as thorough a museum goer as my family, you might want to eat beforehand.
I’m so bummed I didn’t see Criminal Crafts in the gift shop. Did you know the author lives in Portland?
I’m not surprised. Lucky for me there are 3 copies of the book at my local library.