The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, or The Mob Museum as it’s called, is located in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Developed under the creative direction of Dennis Barrie, co-creator of the International Spy Museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the museum tells how the Mafia grew out of American cities over a century ago. Many immigrants who settled in cities were hard-working and wanted to succeed. But instead of traditional roads to success, some chose a life of crime. The museum is dedicated to the contentious relationship between organized crime and law enforcement within the historical context of Las Vegas and the entire United States.
It is not possible to tell the history of Las Vegas without noting the influence of organized crime. The city would not be what it is today if not for the Mafia. The group was important in the creation of modern Las Vegas, helping to build it up from a small town in the desert to an internationally-known city.
The Mob Museum opened this year on February 14th — Valentine’s Day, an important day in Mafia history. It was on Valentine’s Day eighty-three years ago that the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre happened. Seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were shot and killed in Chicago, Illinois by Al Capone, one of the most-feared and best-known criminals of the time. The blood stained, bullet hole-pocked brick wall, reassembled from bricks acquired from the actual wall, is the museum’s star exhibit.
The centerpiece of the Mob Museum is the second floor courtroom, which was the location of one of fourteen national Kefauver Committee hearings to expose organized crime held in 1950 and 1951. Other exhibits focus on Mob violence, casino money skimming operations, and wiretapping by law enforcement. Exhibits are built around artifacts acquired or loaned by mob families and memorabilia collectors, including rare photos and personal items from the pockets of psychopaths and zealots. A visitor can sit in a real electric chair or “fire” an actual Tommy Gun, and even participate in fake police lineups.
Visitors to the Museum have the chance to fire a Tommy gun simulator. The Tommy gun became a popular weapon during prohibition used by both the Mob and law enforcement.