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As We See It

Neon Museum isn’t receiving Mob Museum-style support

The Mob Museum has a pretty price tag: $42 million.
Matthew Laznicka

Every time we turn around, more funding sprouts up for Downtown’s $42 million Mob Museum, much to the chagrin of the museum’s ardent critics, who take any opportunity to sound off that this is a waste of money and will not, as promised, bring revenue to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, just down the Boulevard is a gold mine, a museum so unique and rich in the city’s history that visitors have been climbing its fence for years to get a look. With no marketing, the still-under-construction Neon Museum receives 1,000 visitors a month. (It’s not open to the public, but $15 Boneyard tours scheduled weeks in advance provide visitors a look into our neon history.) Oscar Goodman himself compares Las Vegas’ neon to New Orleans’ jazz. So why has the city not made a Mob Museum-style effort to assist the nonprofit and its collection, which has achieved international celebrity status? The answer, apparently, lies in its origins. “They grew up differently,” says Nancy Deaner, the city’s cultural manager. The Neon Museum was already established when the federal government gave the post office, future home of the Mob Museum, to the City of Las Vegas with the caveat that it be used for cultural purposes. “We looked into how we can make it self-sustaining and not a drain on the taxpayers,” she says, of the Mob Museum. “And we think this is the answer.” That's not to say that the city doesn't care about the Neon Museum. Neon Museum pays only $1 a year to lease its city-owned property.

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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