Originally opened as a natural history museum, The Marjorie Barrick Museum began in 1967 and has grown to a grand sized Museum containing 6 galleries. They are known for fine art and engaging exhibits. Their goal is to enhance visitors understanding of art by acquiring, preserving and interpreting art for individuals wanted to learn. In 1970 the museum relocated to the UNLV campus with expansions and updates coming in 1981 and 1994. The museum was named after a long time benefactor to the school and has held noted speakers such as Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Mikel Gorbachev and F.W. de Klerk. In the past 2 years the museum has gone through major renovations and recently teamed up with The Las Vegas Art Museum and The LVAM's collection is now prominently showcased under their roof. Here are their different hours: Mon-Fri 9.–5p Thur until 8pSat. 12p.–5p, Summer Hours (May-August) Mon-Fri 9a.-5p, Sat 12p-5p The museum is only closed Sundays and state and federal holidays. They are free to visit, but might ask for donations which we think is perfectly understandable.
On to something a little faster. The Shelby Museum located at Carroll Shelby International is always free to tour and amazing to view. The museum is always changing their looks as well as "inventory". They boast the first Cobra CSX2000 to prototypes of the Series 1, Shelby GT-H, Terlingua, GT500KR, as well as many more. You can walk through history then walk through the manufacturing plant and watch as they handcraft the newest Shelby and Shelby parts. If you would like a guided tour you must be there by 10:30a Mon-Sat. Tours are free but that is the only time of the day they give them. Other then guided tours they are open to the public from 9a-6p, and closed on Sunday. Actual address is 6405 Ensworth St, at the Shelby International plant itself.
Heading back downtown to one of my favorite Museums. The Mob museum, actually called The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, sits in the original and now historic Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office. The Mafia crippling Kevauver hearings were conducted in the courtroom of this very building on November 15, 1950. Admission is a little steep for non residence. $21.95 adult, $13.95 resident, 10 and under are free. I can easily spend three hours here.(I have), but do try and give yourself 2 hours to take in all the great displays. The 41,000 square-foot Mob Museum includes approximately 17,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors in addition to a special event areas, educational areas and office space. I would suggest starting at the top. Third floor is where it all begins, with the timeline of Mob history including the families coming to this country, through prohibition, and on to the involvement of J Edger Hoovers and Elliot Ness. One of the first areas contains an entire lineup room; just to get the museum goers in the right mood. The lineup room has an interactive voice coming from one side of the wall, giving line up orders to visitors. (Stand straight, Turn around, Raise your arms, etc).
2nd floor is the actual floor containing the Courtroom where the Kefauver trials took place. Outside the Courtroom are the waiting rooms entirely intact as they were in 1950-1951 during those trials. The Courtroom itself has 2 enormous screens telling the story and showing video and stills of those days and interviews of persons involved. First floor contained mostly law enforcement exhibits and police technique displays of evidence, lineup photos, mug shots, and surveillance videos. This is a must see if you are at all a Las Vegas historian or Mob history buff.
The Natural History Museum is fun and informative. Great exhibits with or without the kids. Admission is very cheap. You can even find some "buy one get one" adult admissions at their website. Located next to Cashman Field at 900 North Las Vegas Blvd. This Museum overflows with Nevada nature, past and present. Enter the Museum and your walking down The Grand Hall past the enormous Marine life gallery. About 10 exhibits through out the main floor, and a few more on their lower level. They do have rotating exhibits so things don't get stale too quickly. The taxidermy is outstanding to say the least. I loved the large stingray aquarium and seahorse tank. You'll be amazed by the Snake Pit and the different reptiles on display there, then step directly outside to Heritage Park. The lower level contains Early Man, African Rainforest and Savanna galleries as well as a great little snack room. $10 for adults, $5 ages 3-11, Hours are daily 9a-4p closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving. While you're there you cant pass up walking through the Old Mormon Fort, next door. A great piece of history by itself, the Old Mormon Fort can be toured for only a dollar.
Collections, exhibits and experiences are popping up all the time in Vegas.
At the Bellagio they offer the fine art collection. The only knock on this exhibit is the size. A little small for the price, $17 and $14 for locals. Collections change a few times per year, so check ahead to see what's on display. Hours at The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art run seven days a week 10a-8P. Take advantage of the free audio guide, its packed with tidbits on a number of pieces there. You may not take photos or use cellular devices. Strollers are prohibited and its not a very kid friendly gallery. They're very strict with getting to close to the art work, but the collection is very beautiful, for the limited space its in.
Just opened at Westgate, the Elvis Experience and Elvis Exhibition seems to be getting great reviews. We have yet to visit it, but all mentions indicate they are doing it right. The exhibit features hundreds of artifacts straight from Graceland and they don't focus entirely on his Vegas days but rather his entire life. We've been told the 26 minute video at the end of the exhibit is great. The Exhibition is $22 and they are open 7 days a week.
The Experience part is just that, an experience that puts you in the seats of the Elvis Presley International Showroom, as one of Elvis' legendary performances is played out, in detail, on the same stage he played from 1969-76. Performances are set for Tue-Thurs at 7:30p and Fri. and Sat at 8p. Tickets start at $49 and skyrocket to $88 which seems a little steep for a replica concert but some fans are that devoted.
A final collection definitely worth mentioning is the Auto Collection. On display at what is now known as The LinQ. This is a motor heads dream museum/collection/sale. We mention sale because many of these, seemingly priceless, automobiles are for sale. The collection is up on the fifth floor of the parking facilities, out of the way of the casino. You can admire the cars for free if you head over to their website and print off the coupon. If you forget it will cost you around $12.95. The collection is truly stunning. They showcase vintage racers, muscle cars, unique autos, even vehicles one time owned by celebrities and/or featured in movies. Over 250 in all it will take you an hour to walk the lot and snap photos with your favorites. We find this exhibit one of the better time wasters. Its mid strip located at a newly renovated and somewhat hip hotel. The LinQ should be on your "to check out" list for one reason or another anyway. There's not a lot of staff to answer question but there are placards describing most of the collection, they also provide an optional audio guide at no charge. It does rotate so don't worry about it being the same dusty collection it once was. Not every car was (also) for sale, but if I had an extra $145,000 laying around the '65 Impala 409 SS Coupe would have been my way home. Highly recommend this exhibit especially if its your first visit. They open daily 10a-6p.
Museums are an inexpensive option for visitors and locals alike. If you have a few extra hours where you've exhausted your gambling bug, you can't go wrong learning something.