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Mob Museum changes identity

Nothing personal, Las Vegas. It’s just business.

The Mob Museum is now known as the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement — swapping its original Las Vegas title for one more reflective of its content, museum officials said.

The museum, which is scheduled to open Feb. 14, 2012, to coincide with the 83rd anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, will tell the story of organized crime as it affected the entire country, not just Las Vegas.

That isn’t to say Sin City’s mob stories are lessened in any way, said Jonathan Ullman, the museum’s executive director. Prominent mob figures had a higher profile in other cities nationwide, including Chicago and New York.

“You really cannot tell this story without addressing larger national content,” Ullman said. “We cover Prohibition, immigration and the evolution of the criminal justice system. We believe our name should reflect our status as a world-class museum and a foremost venue for an informal education on this subject matter.”

The name change is showcased on the museum’s website, themobmuseum.org. The decision was finalized in August and “embraced by representatives at the city, the museum board and other key stakeholders,” Ullman added.

“We hope it’s not perceived as a slight on anyone in the local community,” he said. “There’s a great deal of community pride in this venue.”

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who used to work as an attorney representing reputed organized crime figures and was involved in bringing the museum to the area, said he welcomed the change.

“It should be more expansive,” Goodman said. “I think it should be called the international museum. As we got into this whole project, we saw this is an international story of folks coming from foreign lands into the United States as immigrants and becoming a part of what was referred to as organized crime.”

Goodman added that no one should consider the change negatively.

“This is a great thing,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Goodman’s appearance on the television show “CSI,” which showcases the Mob Museum’s opening in its plot, will be aired at a viewing party at the Plaza.

Goodman takes a bullet at the museum, which “CSI” re-created on its own because the actual location won’t open until next year. The event starts at
8:30 p.m. with a 10 p.m. screening.

The $42 million Mob Museum will be dedicated to the history of organized crime and the law enforcement that hunted mobsters for decades. It is expected to draw 600,000 visitors annually once it opens at 300 Stewart Ave.

The Depression-era building is a historic former federal courthouse and post office included on both the Nevada and National Registers of Historic Places.

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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