- Photo: Reuters/Steve Marcus)
Las Vegas has unveiled its newest attraction, the Mob Museum, which opened Tuesday and features a gallery of famous Mafia figures.
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement features 17,000 square feet of exhibit space, which is split between history of the mob and the efforts of those who tried to fight them, according to msnbc.com.
Las Vegas Mayor and former mob Attorney Oscar Goodman said that you cannot tell the story of Las Vegas without talking about organized crime. "It's part of the genesis of the city as the destination it became," Goodman said.
Goodman is also the museum's executive director and calls Las Vegas unique for being founded by "alleged mobsters."
The exhibits tells the stories of Siegel, Meyer Lansky and other early Las Vegas mobsters. The museum will also display the history of Sam Giancana, John "the Teflon Don" Gotti and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who was the real-life Sam "Ace" Rothstein in the movie, "Casino."
Many of the exhibits in the mob museum include graphic images of violence, prostitution and other illegal activities. Signature exhibits display the wall from the 1929 St. Valentine's Day massacre and the barber shop chair where gangster, Albert Anastasia, suffered a brutal murder. However, visitors can also review the history of the lawmen that helped bring down the mob.
Eliot Ness, J. Edgar Hoover and Joe "Donnie Brasco" Pistone have their own exhibits. Joe Pistone is famous for going undercover as Donnie Brasco and infiltrating the Bonanno and Colombo crime families.
Michael Green, history professor at the College of Southern Nevada and Mob Museum consultant, said that the museum doesn't glamorize gangsters. He said it tells both sides of a story involving immigration, prohibition, the criminal justice system and the influence of popular culture, according to msnbc.com.
"History is sometimes beautiful and often times ugly," Green said. "If we can tell the truth, people will come out not feeling that we glamorized it but that we informed them."