National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement opens with great fanfare, and mass wedding on 83rd anniversary of St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, an infamous day in Mob history.
The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, opened to the public on February 14 in downtown LasVegas on the 83rd anniversary of the Chicago St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – considered by many as the most notorious hit in Mob history. One of the Museum’s iconic artifacts is the brick wall against which the members of the Bugs Moran gang were lined up and shot and killed by members of Al Capone’s gang.
“The Mob Museum is a world-class destination created by a team of researchers and creative experts who are the best in their respective fields,” said Jonathan Ullman, executive director of The Mob Museum. “The end result is a modern and contemporary look at a subject that continues to fascinate the world. And it’s a story that has no end because organized crime continues to evolve and impact our global economy even today.“
According to Ellen Knowlton, former FBI Special Agent in Charge, Las Vegas Division, and a 24-year FBI veteran who now heads The Mob Museum’s non-profit board of directors, The Mob Museum is one of the most unique museums in the country. “Our goal is to accurately tell the stories of organized crime and how it shaped our country. The Museum also celebrates the victories of law enforcement and gives visitors insider access to wiretaps and other information uncovered through sophisticated surveillance and sting operations. It’s highly interactive and clearly educational.”
The grand opening kicked off with an early morning mass wedding and vow renewal ceremony in The Mob Museum’s historic courtroom – the same courtroom where one of the 14 Kefauver nationwide hearings took place in 1950 to expose organized crime. Seven couples from throughout the country were randomly drawn via a national “Married at The Mob Museum” promotion. The ceremony was officiated by Oscar B. Goodman, former Las Vegas Mayor and once the Mob’s go-to defense attorney. Goodman, who now serves on the Museum’s board of directors and is one of the Museum’s original visionaries, received his ministerial ordination expressly for this historic event.
Following the wedding, representatives of The Mob Museum, its world-class creative team, city of Las Vegas officials and members of the Museum’s board of directors led a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included a performance by The Jersey Boys, vintage police cars, flappers and a Gin bottle-breaking on Prohibition-style barrels.
The Mob Museum is housed in the former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office built in 1933 during the Hoover administration. Carefully and meticulously rehabilitated to house The Museum, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the Museum’s ultimate artifact.
“If these walls could talk,” said Goodman of the nearly 80-year-old building where he once defended the likes of Anthony Spilotro, Meyer Lansky and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. In service as a federal courthouse and post office for more than 70 years, the neo-classical building is at the center of many fond memories for a number of Southern Nevadans whose families are considered pioneers and founders of modern-day Las Vegas.
Designed by the same creative team credited with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., The Mob Museum adopts a contemporary style to story-telling approach via engaging exhibits and multi-sensory experiences. The Mob Museum puts the visitor in the middle of the action through high-tech theater presentations, iconic one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive, themed environments. Visitors can shoot a Tommy Gun simulator, listen in on actual wiretaps and be part of a police line-up.
Artifacts to be integrated throughout the Museum’s interactive exhibits provide an insider’s look into many of organized crime’s biggest names, including Alphonse Capone, Dion O’Bannion, George Moran, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Ben Siegel, Sam Giancana, Joe Bonanno, Frank Rosenthal, Mickey Cohen, Tony Spilotro, and John Gotti among others.
The Museum also worked with the FBI and many famous undercover agents who made a career of fighting the Mob, including legendary agents Joe Pistone who infiltrated the Mob posing as a small-time jewel thief Donnie Brasco; and Cuban-born Jack Garcia who successfully ingrained himself into the Gambino family.
The 41,000-square-foot Mob Museum includes 17,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors in addition to a specialty retail store, special event areas, educational areas and office space. The Museum hours are Sundays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays until 8 p.m. Admission is $18 for adults ages 18 and over with special pricing for children, students, military, law enforcement and teachers; and $10 for local residents of all ages.