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THE MOB MUSEUM ****** http://themobmuseum.org/ To sum up in the most concise manner what this museum is all about I would say that it tells the very intriguing story of the mutual correlation between organized crime and law enforcement. Because even though this establishment is called “The Mob Museum” one must remember that the police and other government agencies did not just idly sit back and enjoy the show. Well all right, some of them got paid a lot of money to do just that. But for the most part attempts (at times more serious, at times half-hearted and derailed by corruption) have been made to stop the reign of these unscrupulous murderers, driven by dirty money and ruthless violence. Here you can witness what methods and means the law enforcement applied to tackle this growing epidemic, their biggest triumphs, failures and trials. Perhaps they have not been entirely successful in extinguishing the mafia from the world, but at least nowadays the Wise Guys don’t seem to be as ever-present and powerful as they used to be in the past. What was it that Meyer Lansky once said? Oh yes: “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel”. That should give you some idea about just how things used to go down when those gentlemen were at the height of their, ehem, productivity… The Mob reached high and it reached wide: one can say that it pretty much controlled any kind of business deemed illegal by the authorities such as gambling, drugs, prostitution or bootlegging. So you see those gangsters were not criminals in the strict sense of the word, more like entertainment providers. To quote Al Capone, he allegedly once said: “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man”. Very sad how their intentions remained so badly, ehem, misunderstood… The exhibition is located on three floors in a historic building just a few blocks away from the Freemont Street Experience. There is limited parking available right next to it, you can also reach the venue using public transportation. The first impression we experienced upon entering the premises was that of being welcome: we were greeted with great joy and warmth (and no, we were not the only patrons there as in everybody latched onto us in the first-visitor-in-a-week, pure desperation kind of way), the staff working there are all extremely friendly, a real pleasure to deal with. They also seem to be well-informed and will assist you or answer any questions that you might have regarding the materials on display or mafia-related events. A good place to start your self-guided tour is a little theatre you will see right after coming into the main exhibit area on the third floor: it plays a short, but very informative film about the history of the Mob. And so we learn that this chapter more or less begins with the passing of the Prohibition in 1920. Now please don’t get me wrong, gangsters and crooks have certainly existed before, but never on such a gigantic, organized-crime- running-like-a-Swiss-Watch scale it escalated to after alcohol had been officially banned from the United States. Immediately sensing a business that can only be described as a true gold-mine, the Mafia mobilized their resources and quickly embarked on a very lucrative journey of producing and/or smuggling booze. That, of course, did carry certain life-style risks with it, as any loyal Boardwalk Empire fan can attest. Generally one can’t help but wonder why any of those men chose this particular career? The life-expectancy sure wasn’t very high and you were extremely lucky if you made it to your old age without being shot at (or ideally shot at and killed) or doing a stint in jail. You had to constantly fear for your life, got frequently beaten and bossed around by guys with some mild (or at times severe) mental issues and questionable  leadership techniques. Nobody cared if you caught a couple of bullets or not. Occupational hazard. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? The exhibition consists mostly of pictures with explanations about the significance of a particular image/event. If you like mafia movies and series or have ever done any research in this field you will recognize a lot of names. The Museum does a great job of presenting the gangsters’ personal lives as well as their “professional”, so that you can really get an idea what it was like to be one of them. There are also some fascinating items on display, like the original wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a Tommy gun (which you can touch, hold and even “pretend” shoot), an electric chair, a barber chair Albert Anastasia was murdered in and so on.  In my opinion, however, the collection does not offer enough physical artifacts to balance out the photographic story-telling element. Hence the 5 stars instead of 6 in my rating. A lot of the exhibits are interactive; you can watch little movies or clips playing throughout the tour, as well. The museum also addresses the history of Las Vegas and the involvement of the Mob in creating/running Sin City and features a replica of the court-room, where mafia trials were being held in 1950. A truly gripping, albeit a bit morbid part of the Museum’s collection of treasures is a wall displaying pictures of the most famous hits “credited” to the Mob. These photos depict the actual corpses of the deceased and can be rather graphic in nature. Another attraction you simply cannot miss is a wall with pictures and brief biographies of all the well-known mafia personalities, a sort of “where are they now” collage. Hmm, so off the top of my head: mostly dead (shot, stabbed, strangled, poisoned or the most shocking of them all, namely “died of natural causes”) or in prison. Some of them, the really smart and lucky ones, actually evaded capture/assassination and lived out their lives in relative peace. But those were few and far in between. And last but not least, for the Pièce de résistance we can admire the “Movies” wall adorned with the photographs of all the Hollywood stars portraying popular gangster characters on the Silver Screen. All in all a very well designed, interesting exhibition which will certainly shed a lot of light onto the doings and dealings of the Mob. I would recommend to plan about 3-4 hrs for this visit, especially if you want to familiarize yourself with the collection in greater detail, as well as enjoy all the available film footage.
   RATING     ****** excellent     ***** very good     ****good     *** average     ** pretty bad     * horrible

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THE MOB MUSEUM ****** http://themobmuseum.org/ To sum up in the most concise manner what this museum is all about I would say that it tells the very intriguing story of the mutual correlation between organized crime and law enforcement. Because even though this establishment is called “The Mob Museum” one must remember that the police and other government agencies did not just idly sit back and enjoy the show. Well all right, some of them got paid a lot of money to do just that. But for the most part attempts (at times more serious, at times half- hearted and derailed by corruption) have been made to stop the reign of these unscrupulous murderers, driven by dirty money and ruthless violence. Here you can witness what methods and means the law enforcement applied to tackle this growing epidemic, their biggest triumphs, failures and trials. Perhaps they have not been entirely successful in extinguishing the mafia from the world, but at least nowadays the Wise Guys don’t seem to be as ever-present and powerful as they used to be in the past. What was it that Meyer Lansky once said? Oh yes: “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel”. That should give you some idea about just how things used to go down when those gentlemen were at the height of their, ehem, productivity… The Mob reached high and it reached wide: one can say that it pretty much controlled any kind of business deemed illegal by the authorities such as gambling, drugs, prostitution or bootlegging. So you see those gangsters were not criminals in the strict sense of the word, more like entertainment providers. To quote Al Capone, he allegedly once said: “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man”. Very sad how their intentions remained so badly, ehem, misunderstood… The exhibition is located on three floors in a historic building just a few blocks away from the Freemont Street Experience. There is limited parking available right next to it, you can also reach the venue using public transportation. The first impression we experienced upon entering the premises was that of being welcome: we were greeted with great joy and warmth (and no, we were not the only patrons there as in everybody latched onto us in the first-visitor-in-a-week, pure desperation kind of way), the staff working there are all extremely friendly, a real pleasure to deal with. They also seem to be well-informed and will assist you or answer any questions that you might have regarding the materials on display or mafia-related events. A good place to start your self-guided tour is a little theatre you will see right after coming into the main exhibit area on the third floor: it plays a short, but very informative film about the history of the Mob. And so we learn that this chapter more or less begins with the passing of the Prohibition in 1920. Now please don’t get me wrong, gangsters and crooks have certainly existed before, but never on such a gigantic, organized-crime- running-like-a-Swiss- Watch scale it escalated to after alcohol had been officially banned from the United States. Immediately sensing a business that can only be described as a true gold-mine, the Mafia mobilized their resources and quickly embarked on a very lucrative journey of producing and/or smuggling booze. That, of course, did carry certain life-style risks with it, as any loyal Boardwalk Empire fan can attest. Generally one can’t help but wonder why any of those men chose this particular career? The life- expectancy sure wasn’t very high and you were extremely lucky if you made it to your old age without being shot at (or ideally shot at and killed) or doing a stint in jail. You had to constantly fear for your life, got frequently beaten and bossed around by guys with some mild (or at times severe) mental issues and questionable  leadership techniques. Nobody cared if you caught a couple of bullets or not. Occupational hazard. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? The exhibition consists mostly of pictures with explanations about the significance of a particular image/event. If you like mafia movies and series or have ever done any research in this field you will recognize a lot of names. The Museum does a great job of presenting the gangsters’ personal lives as well as their “professional”, so that you can really get an idea what it was like to be one of them. There are also some fascinating items on display, like the original wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a Tommy gun (which you can touch, hold and even “pretend” shoot), an electric chair, a barber chair Albert Anastasia was murdered in and so on.  In my opinion, however, the collection does not offer enough physical artifacts to balance out the photographic story-telling element. Hence the 5 stars instead of 6 in my rating. A lot of the exhibits are interactive; you can watch little movies or clips playing throughout the tour, as well. The museum also addresses the history of Las Vegas and the involvement of the Mob in creating/running Sin City and features a replica of the court-room, where mafia trials were being held in 1950. A truly gripping, albeit a bit morbid part of the Museum’s collection of treasures is a wall displaying pictures of the most famous hits “credited” to the Mob. These photos depict the actual corpses of the deceased and can be rather graphic in nature. Another attraction you simply cannot miss is a wall with pictures and brief biographies of all the well-known mafia personalities, a sort of “where are they now” collage. Hmm, so off the top of my head: mostly dead (shot, stabbed, strangled, poisoned or the most shocking of them all, namely “died of natural causes”) or in prison. Some of them, the really smart and lucky ones, actually evaded capture/assassination and lived out their lives in relative peace. But those were few and far in between. And last but not least, for the Pièce de résistance we can admire the “Movies” wall adorned with the photographs of all the Hollywood stars portraying popular gangster characters on the Silver Screen. All in all a very well designed, interesting exhibition which will certainly shed a lot of light onto the doings and dealings of the Mob. I would recommend to plan about 3-4 hrs for this visit, especially if you want to familiarize yourself with the collection in greater detail, as well as enjoy all the available film footage.
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