Our city has some of the best eccentric and off-beat museums
|Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort|
I do a lot of writing about Las Vegas, most of it over on the 10Best Las Vegas page, but most of it is about the obvious things people are looking for when they visit the city: hotels, restaurants, casinos. Recently I had the chance to write about our museums, which is one of my favorite topics.
I covered the most popular museums, which includes what I like to think of as the Big 3: The Neon Museum, The Mob Museum, and the National Atomic Testing Museum. If you visit these three museums, you’ll get a pretty good look at the history of the city – and all three are home to unusual collections. While you should definitely visit them, there are also plenty of other historic sites, nature viewing areas, and museums you should check out, especially if you’re a local.
If you’re visiting the Atomic Testing Museum, you should also check out the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, which is on the grounds of UNLV. Admission is free and it showcases all kinds of art. Exhibits rotate regularly.
If you’re checking out the Neon Museum or the Mob Museum, you’re in the right part of town for museum-going. The Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, which is next to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, is the site of the oldest non-native structure in the state of Nevada. As the name implies, the location was where early Mormon pioneers built a settlement in 1855. In addition to the restored buildings on the grounds, the visitor center also has exhibits and a wealth of information about early Las Vegas.
Portions of this building date to 1855
Not far from the Cultural Corridor, the Springs Preserve sits on the place that gave Las Vegas its name. It’s home to both the Nevada State Museum and the Origen Museum, but the entire site is fun to explore and holds all kinds of history in its archaeological sites. There are hiking trails, outside play areas for kids, and a botanical garden.
You can easily make an entire day out of museum-going and historical sight-seeing if you plan a trip to Hoover Dam with stops at the Clark County Museum, the Nevada State Railroad Museum, and the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum in the Boulder City Hotel. Alternatively, if you’d rather take in some nature in the eastern part of the valley, you could visit the Clark County Wetlands or the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Out in Boulder City, you could also swing by Hemenway Park, home to a herd of Bighorn Sheep.
Clark County Museum's Ghost Town Hemenway Park, Boulder City
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Pinball Hall of Fame, also known as the Pinball Museum, which is home to the world’s largest pinball collection (according to their website). This is totally a hands-on experience – visitors can play all of the games.
There are even more museums than this – like the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum and museum-like experiences like the Bodies Exhibit and the Titanic Exhibit – but I think I’ve made my point: if you think Las Vegas doesn’t have great museums, think again.
What are some of your favorite Southern Nevada Museums?
All photos by Terrisa Meeks