I had the pleasure of visiting the Vegas Mob Museum not long ago and was floored by what it had to offer. As a mob historian, the museum offered me a journey that I will not soon forget. Each floor offered a different layer of mob history that was exciting with surprising artifacts that only they could offer. From the bullet riddled wall of the St. Valentines Day Massacre to letters from Pablo Escobar, it was wild to see. Of course, all the items go through a rigorous authentication process. Geoff Schumacher, who oversees artifact acquisition and programming, plays a huge role in offering a memorable tour for the many visitors to the museum.
Geoff Schumacher Vice President of Exhibits and Programs
Geoff first came to the museum in 2014 only 2 years after it opened its doors. When he arrived, he worked on building the museum’s internet presence (social media platforms) and artifact acquisition that was needed. Geoff came to the museum with 25 years of journalistic experience and a strong knowledge of Las Vegas. Even though he was not a mob genre enthusiast prior to coming to the museum he realized you cannot ignore that the mob is very much a part of Vegas’ history.
As we mentioned earlier, the artifacts at the museum are mind-blowing and educational. Geoff has made major inroads when working on acquiring such unique items.
“Acquiring artifacts is an interesting role to play at the museum. Individuals donate items which we would have to authenticate. There have been times where someone offers an item, and we may have to deny it since we cannot confirm it is authentic. People may be offended, but we would rather be 100% accurate than not. We also purchase artifacts that we deem useful for an exhibit that is offered to us, but the same protocol is used, confirming its authenticity,” said Geoff.
How the Mob Museum in Las Vegas came to be
The museum does manage to fulfill the scope of mob history, but there is so much more that can be told. The museum itself is a living document since it was there that the famous Kefauver Hearings in 1950-51 were held. The hearings were set-up to prove that an international criminal organization exists. They brought such mobsters like Frank Costello and Joey Gallo into the spotlight that they dreaded. The structure was once a courthouse/post office.
It was a great honor when the museum received accreditation on March 1, 2017. The award is one that a select few museums receive in America, so it was a major accomplishment for the staff. We must note that the museum was the brainchild of the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman. Since its inception in 2012, it has drawn many visitors from all walks of life. It took $42 million to bring the museum to life via local, state, and federal grants.
Even though Geoff and others like Jonathan Ullman would love to expand the space of the museum to offer more, it is hard to do without altering the historic structure. The federal building which erected in 1933 is one you would rather not change in any way. Yet maybe in the future they will hope to expand in a bigger space. Many may say why did they not set up the museum along the strip rather than downtown. But Geoff explained why.
“The best place for the museum is downtown. Great thing is that the structure is an artifact itself. There was no building like that on the strip. It had to be within the city limits to begin with. The museum actually created an economic stimulus for the downtown area.”
Since the pandemic hit, the museum was unable to conduct any public programming or speaking engagements. Yet they are looking to make up for lost time and set up some new programs in 2021.
So far, they had speakers from around the world, which has made the mob museum experience even more memorable. If you are ever in the Vegas area you can bet that a trip to the Mob Museum will be worth the investment.
Have you ever been to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.