Your guide to 16 of Southern Nevada’s most intriguing museums

It’s easy to take museums for granted. Or, worse, to think of them just as warehouses for stuff from the past.

But the best museums do more than display objects. They use exhibits, artifacts and interactive displays to tell a story, whether that story is about mobsters, prehistoric monsters or, even, spooky spirits.

In honor of National Museum Month, here’s a tour of some of Southern Nevada’s most intriguing museums.

Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

■ Info: 4505 S. Maryland Parkway; 702-895-3381; 9 a.m-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, noon-5 p.m. Saturdays; admission: free (suggested donation of $2 for adults).

■ Features: The Las Vegas Art Museum collection and pre-Columbian ethnographic art.

■ Don’t miss: “Estardas,” a 2010 piece by Justin Favela. “Estardas” is “ ‘stardust,’ but with a Spanish accent,” says Alisha Kerlin, the Barrick’s interim executive director. Las Vegas artist Favela used cardboard, glue and paint to transform the iconic sign of the late Stardust casino into a colorful nod to his Mexican and Guatemalan heritage. “I think the piece is about Las Vegas and the plurality of voices that make up Las Vegas,” Kerlin says. “So it’s iconic and expansive at the same time. It’s unexpected and it’s funny.”

Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum

■ Info: Boulder Dam Hotel, 1305 Arizona St., Boulder City; 702-294-1988; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; admission: $2 for adults, $1 for persons younger than 18 and students.

■ Features: Historical artifacts and stories about the construction of Hoover Dam and the workers who built it.

■ Don’t miss: The 20-minute film that includes archival footage of the dam’s construction. “We don’t really deal with the technical aspects of the dam,” says Shirl Naegle, collections manager. “We really talk about the people who came here from all parts of the country to build the dam and what they faced in doing that — living conditions, working conditions, how they melded together into a community.”

Burlesque Hall of Fame

■ Info: 1027 S. Main St., No. 110; 888-661-6465; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; admission: $15.

■ Features: Expanded gift store and a timeline of burlesque history in America, along with an interactive display and a studio for physical learning.

■ Don’t miss: The glass-beaded G-strings. “This museum shows a lot of different facets of the dance and entertainment industry,” says Ray Hanley, a museum manager. “That’s what I love about it. There’s a lot more to the museum than what meets the eye.”

Clark County Museum

■ Info: 1830 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson; 702-455-7955; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; admission: $2 for adults and $1 for seniors older than 55 and children younger than 17.

■ Features: Walking trails, exhibits and displays that explore the history and development of Southern Nevada and how Southern Nevadans lived.

■ Don’t miss: Heritage Street, a collection of historic homes and buildings — including a print shop and a wedding chapel — that were moved to the site and painstakingly restored to match their historical eras.

Discovery Children’s Museum

■ Info: 360 Promenade Place; 702-382-3445; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays; admission: $14.50 ($12.50 for locals).

■ Features: Nine themed galleries and interactive exhibits exploring early childhood development, science and nature, art and culture and humanities.

■ Don’t miss: The Water World Gallery. “It is truly a sensory experience,” says Laura Christian, assistant director of learning experiences, where children not only can delight in the sensory spell of water but also learn about the unique scientific properties of water and study hydroelectricity through an interactive model of Hoover Dam.

Erotic Heritage Museum

■ Info: 3275 Sammy Davis Jr. Drive; 702-794-4000; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays; admission (must be 18 or older): $30 ($15 for locals), $10 for students, seniors and military.

■ Features: Exhibits, guided tours, workshops, lectures and other displays and activities, with a mission “to demystify and destigmatize human sexuality,” says Victoria Hartmann, executive director.

■ Don’t miss: The exhibit examining the evolution of human sexuality. “It’s really comprehensive,” Hartmann says, and looks at the topic from not just a behavioral perspective but an anthropological perspective, too.

Hollywood Cars Museum

■ Info: 5115 Dean Martin Drive, No. 905; 702-331-6400; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; admission: $20, children younger than 16 free with paid adult.

■ Features: A selection of celebrity vehicles that includes the Batmobile and Liberace’s blinged-out rides.

■ Don’t miss: The Lotus Esprit that appeared in the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Bond’s beyond-street-legal model was amphibious and included cannons, a periscope and torpedoes.

Aviation Museum

■ Info: Main exhibits at McCarran International Airport, on the mezzanine level overlooking baggage claim in Terminal 1; other exhibits are located throughout McCarran, with additional exhibits at the North Las Vegas Airport and Henderson Executive Airport; 702-455-7968; 24 hours a day; admission: free.

■ Features: Exhibits about the history and development of aviation in Southern Nevada and how and why aviation is so important here.

■ Don’t miss: The 1958 Cessna 172 hanging above the north end of the baggage claim area in Terminal 1. In 1958-59, the plane, piloted by Robert Timm and John Cook, flew for 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds without touching the ground, setting a World Endurance Aloft flying record that still stands.

Natural History Museum

■ Info: 900 North Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-384-3466; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; admission: $12 for adults; $10 for seniors, military and students; $6 for children ages 3 to 11, free for children 2 and younger.

■ Features: Exhibits about Southern Nevada’s natural history, including a geology gallery, Treasures of Egypt exhibit, galleries and models about prehistoric life (dinosaurs!); a marine life gallery with live sharks and stingrays; live animals that include scorpions, snakes and lizards, and interactive science exhibits.

■ Don’t miss: The paleontology lab, where guests can watch as real scientists work with real fossils of real creatures that really lived here long ago. Researchers aren’t working in the lab every day, says Marilyn Gillespie, the museum’s executive director. “But when it is open, people can watch science happen.”

Mob Museum

■ Info: 300 Stewart Ave.; 702-229-2734; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-midnight Thursdays-Saturdays; admission: general admission $26.95 (or $16.95 locals); all-access passes that include full museum admission and enhanced experiences $41.95.

■ Features: More than 900 artifacts, interactive exhibits and theater presentations on organized crime.

■ Don’t miss: The Underground, the new speakeasy/distillery/Prohibition exhibition in the museum’s basement.

Atomic Testing Museum

■ Info: 755 E. Flamingo Road; 702-794-5151; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays; admission: $20-$22, children 6 and younger free.

■ Features: Exhibits and artifacts chronicling the development of the former Nevada Test Site, the evolution of the Cold War, and the history of nuclear testing in Nevada.

■ Don’t miss: Archival films in the Ground Zero theater.

Neon Museum

■ Info: 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North; 702-387-6366; 9:30 a.m.-around 10:40 p.m. or midnight, depending on the season and the tour; admission: day tours starting at $19; night tours $28, “Brilliant!” is $23, ages 6 and younger free. Daytime tours are $12-$18 and evening tours are $22-$25; ages 6 and younger are free. Sunset photo tours 5-6 p.m. Fridays and Tuesdays, $75 ($60 for locals).

■ Features: Tours of more than 150 classic neon signs.

■ Don’t miss: New audio-visual light show “Brilliant!” which reanimates 40 of the museum’s classic signs through the use of technology.

Nevada State Museum

■ Info: 309 S. Valley View Blvd.; 702-486-5205; 9 a.m.-5 p.m Tuesdays-Sundays; admission: adult admission of $9.95 includes access to Springs Preserve; children 17 and younger free.

■ Features: Exhibits about regional and natural history.

■ Don’t miss: The 13-foot articulated mammoth skeleton.

Pinball Hall of Fame

■ Info: 1610 E. Tropicana Ave.; 702-597-2627; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays; admission: free. Just bring lots of quarters for the pinball games and video games.

■ Features: A warehouseful of pinball machines and arcade games ranging in era from “way back” to “I know that one!”

■ Don’t miss: That favorite game from your youth, because it’s probably here.

Origen Museum

■ Info: Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.; 702-822-7700; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; admission: $9.95-$18.95.

■ Features: Panoramic-styled theater, interactive exhibits.

■ Don’t miss: Live animal exhibits that include Mojave native animals.

Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum

■ Info: 600 E. Charleston Blvd.; 702-444-0744; 1-9 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays-Saturdays, noon-8 p.m. Sunday; admission: starting at $44.

■ Features: A collection of creepy, macabre, fascinating, allegedly haunted and seriously cool items from the personal collection of Bagans, host of Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.”

■ Don’t miss: The Dybbuk Box, said to hold a malevolent spirit.

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

Review-Journal staff writer Mia Sims contributed to this report. Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Life Videos
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing