|Mike Doria greeted me and welcomed me to the Museum on Monday, February 28|
|Next I met with Executive Director, Jonathan Ullman|
I met with Mike and Jonathan Ullman, the Executive Director of the new Las Vegas Mob Museum and former Channel 5 newscaster Mike Doria who is now Public Relations Specialist for the Museum to interview them for my column in the Las Vegas edition of www.examiner.com.
|This Post Office Building is now the Mob Museum|
Okay, right about this time you're probably asking yourself, "What's so special about a museum dedicated to the history of Las Vegas mobs?" Well, the first thing you learn upon entering this historic former Post Office building is that it's not just about Las Vegas. This museum covers the history of organized crime in the entire United States dating back to the early 1900's. Back to the New York, Chicago and Cleveland gangs before Las Vegas was ever more than a wide spot in the road populated by ranchers and earlier pioneers in the business that eventually grew here. They were riding horses down the streets while crime burgeoned in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
When the Museum, which was in the planning stages for many years, was conceived they assembled a world class team to design and implement it. The moment you step into the building and take the elevator to the third floor where the experience begins, you are presented some of the best displays I've seen in a museum. The designs are dynamic, the material comprehensive and educational, but presented in very entertaining ways.
It opened, appropriately on St. Valentine's Day this year. One of the first things I learned was that the St. Valentine's Day massacre happened in Chicago's Lincoln Park. I'm from Chicago and visited the park often as a child, but I never knew that it was the site of one of the bloodiest days in Mob history.
On the second floor you enter the courtroom where Senator Estes Kefauver. who eventually ran for President of the United States, held some of his famous 1950s hearings on Organized Crime. Settle into a seat on the bench while you watch a 3 screen presentation with authentic footage.
Then there is the opportunity to learn little known facts, like this one: Eunice Carter was the first African American female prosecutor on DA Thomas Dewey's staff. Dewey's claim to fame was fighting Mobs. What she uncovered was huge, and laid the groundwork for the prosecution of Lucky Luciano, but how many people would ever know her name or her groundbreaking assent into Dewey's staff? Mr. Dewey eventually ran for President of the United States and it was assumed he'd won. Newspaper headlines proclaimed his win, but it was soon discovered that he did not.
I found out that our former President Ronald Reagan performed with a short-lived chimpanzee act at the Last Frontier in 1954 when his acting career was at a low ebb. This intrigued me, so I investigated further on the internet and discovered that he also danced with The Honey Brothers, a team of slapstick comedians, during an engagement at the Last Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on Feb. 15, 1954.
|Jane and Sue|
This new Mob Museum covers so much that is woven into the history of our country, you really need a minimum of three hours to check out the exhibits.I would have liked to take as long as four or five hours to see and experience everything, from the interactive exhibits, to the photo galleries, first floor exhibits that highlight the work undercover FBI agents did through the years and video interviews with mobsters and agents alike. Find out what it's like to listen to actual wiretaps and what went into undercover agents infiltrating the mobs.
On the way out, I chatted with Gift Store Director Sue Reynolds and the Receiving Manager, Jane Carter about what people can find in the gift shop. Jane was quick to tell me that even if you don't tour the Museum, the shop is open to the public so whether you are a Las Vegas local or tourist, this is where you can find unique gifts and a great collection of books all in one place.
|The place to find books|
Trust me, I will go back again!
That's all for now. MORGAN