Las Vegas is spending $50 million for a museum that will tell the story of the city’s rise from a desert watering hole to glittering magnet for dreamers by focusing on what may have been the key – organized crime. The old downtown federal courthouse and post office will be transformed into the Las Vegas Museum of Law Enforcement and Organized Crime. Or, as locals call it, the Mob Museum. Mayor Oscar Goodman says the city owes much of its success to the “made” men and associates of organized crime. Goodman, 69, served as defense lawyer for prominent mob figures.
Recently retired Las Vegas FBI agent in charge Ellen Knowlton heads the board overseeing the project. She says the bureau and Justice Department in Washington have provided assistance, as have former police and agents. “I wanted to make sure the FBI was accurately represented,” she says. “I was not interested in any project that would glorify any criminal activity.” Museum’s creative director Dennis Barrie also helped create the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “Why do a spy museum? Why do a rock museum? These are all part of our culture,” Barrie says. “Certainly organized crime is, and has been, a part of our culture.”