Las Vegas honors its history in museums, whether the immediate past or during the time dinosaurs roamed the earth. Southern Nevada museums showcase its colorful history, inspires children, embraces the arts and teaches both residents and tourists how Las Vegas transitioned from small railroad town to the metropolis it has become in the new century. Museums also educate about places far from Las Vegas, the science that encompasses the globe and different cultures today and throughout the ages. Get your fill of information from one of these great permanent exhibits in some of Las Vegas’ best museums.
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement
300 E. Stewart Ave.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
The Mob Museum presents Las Vegas history, highlighting the events and people on both sides of the law in organized crime and housed in the building where one of the Kefauver hearings were held during the 1950s. One permanent exhibit is the actual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall. The shooting death of seven members of George “Bugs” Moran’s gang standing in front of the wall by members of Al Capone’s gang, dressed as policemen, on February 14, 1929 is thought by many historians as the event that brought the violence of the mob to public attention. The bullet-ridden wall remained standing until sold in 1967 and, after changing owners several times, is now on exhibit in the Mob Museum.
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum
900 N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV. 89101
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which will be celebrating 22 years, was opened to educate the public about science and nature, whether in Southern Nevada or around the world. The Las Vegas Founders’ African Galleries include three permanent exhibits. The African Rainforest exhibit features life found in the jungle within the recreation of the Rainforest including thunder and rain. The African Savanna exhibit presents the diversity of the Serengeti demonstrating the predators, preys and co-existence of the animals. Lastly, the Out of Africa exhibit showcases prehistoric African primates.
Discovery Children’s Museum
Donald W. Reynolds Discovery Center
360 Promenade Place
Las Vegas, Nevada 89106
The DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, originally the Lied Discovery Museum, is dedicated to educating all children, from infants to teenagers, about the world around them. The Summit, a permanent three-story tower which covers 2,200 square feet, offers children the opportunity to learn and interact with scientific exhibits. Young explorers “climb” the 12 levels and learn about energy, light, sound, machinery, magnets, sight, electricity and earth as a whole. Applications are hands-on and are part of day-to-day life.
National Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
The National Atomic Testing Museum explains the history of the Nevada Test Site build to produce and test nuclear weapons. One permanent exhibit is the Atomic Age Gallery which shows the combination of education and pop culture. Exhibits that would be considering branding today illustrate the commercial use of nuclear themes. From the famous pin-up model covered by an atomic explosion of the 1950s to a Disney cartoon explaining fission and fusion as part of nuclear reaction, the Atomic Age Gallery showcases the early acceptance of nuclear testing by Americans.
770 N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
The Neon Museum is devoted to preserving neon signs of Southern Nevada as an expression of art and a comment on society. The Neon Boneyard can be viewed on a walking tour in a two-acre outdoor area with guides explaining the history. Neon signage remains an important component of Southern Nevada, and the collection demonstrates some of the best in design and creativity with signs from casinos, motels and businesses from its past.
Debbie Hall is practically a Las Vegas native (34 years and counting) and loves experiencing everything in Southern Nevada from the Las Vegas Strip to the surrounding mountains and Lake Mead. She also teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and loves sharing her knowledge. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.