Top 18 Museums and Exhibits
Image by Laslovarga under Creative Commons License.

Nevada, Las Vegas Guide (D): Top 18 Museums and Exhibits

Las Vegas has a wealth of history, and although most tourists never stray beyond the glitz and neon of the Strip, there is a treasure chest of attractions still to explore. This guide covers the whole valley and covers art, trains, nature, atomic bomb testing, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the Mafia, classic cars, the Titanic and even the Erotic Heritage Museum. If you think you've seen it all, think again. Let's go. Are you ready?
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Attractions Map

Guide Name: Top 18 Museums and Exhibits
Guide Location: USA » Las Vegas
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Destinations: 18
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Atomic Testing Museum Natural History Museum Bellagio Fine Art Gallery Bodies - The Exhibit City Center Fine Art Collection Erotic Heritage Museum Imperial Palace Auto Collection Las Vegas Mob Experience Las Vegas Natural History Museum Lied Discovery Children's Museum Neon Museum Carroll Shelby Museum The Springs Preserve Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum The Mob Museum Lightscapes at the Fremont Street Experience Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
Author: Scott Weber
Author Bio: Scott is a longtime resident of the Southwest and tries to get out an explore every chance he gets. He shares his adventures in tour guides, short stories, and screenplays.
1
Atomic Testing Museum

1) Atomic Testing Museum

The 8,000 square foot Atomic Testing Museum is one of the most popular museums in Las Vegas. Run by the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, and affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, the museum is packed full of exhibits, movies, artifacts, and memorabilia relating to Nevada’s contributions to atomic energy research as well as providing a historical view of nuclear fusion and its impact on world politics. Some of the exhibits include: the inside of a nuclear bomb, Geiger-counters, a bomb-blast viewing bunker, maps, lasers, uranium mining techniques, and everything you’ll ever want to know about atomic energy. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm except Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Admission is: Adults $12, everyone else $9.
2
Natural History Museum

2) Natural History Museum

The Marjorie Barrick Museum’s primary focus is on the natural history of the American Southwest, Mesoamerica, and surrounding areas and is presented through several cultural collections including a comprehensive collection of Pre-Columbian objects from nearly every Latin American culture. The museum also has a 2,500-square-foot gallery that features a rotation of international and regional exhibitions. Recent gallery shows include: Ansel Adams, Frida Kahlo, and a collection of contemporary art. Outdoors, you'll find the 1.5-acre garden, featuring drought-tolerant plants from North America, Australia, South America, Mexico, and the Mediterranean.

Hours: Monday to Friday 8 am – 4:45 pm, Saturday 10 am – 2 pm. Closed Sundays. Suggested contribution: Adults $5, everyone else $2.
3
Bellagio Fine Art Gallery

3) Bellagio Fine Art Gallery

One might expect that if the Bellagio were to open a fine art gallery it would be top-notch, and they haven’t disappointed us. Drawing from the art collection of their parent company MGM Resorts, and affiliated museums and foundations, the Bellagio presents an ever-changing collection of themed exhibits in their state-of-the-art gallery, so check their website for current information. Artists represented in the permanent collection include, Renoir, Picasso, Degas, Leger, Hockney, Lichtenstein, and many others. They also host a wine tasting and art appreciation event on the second Wednesday of each month from 5 - 7 pm. The gallery is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. General admission is $15 and kids are $10. Tickets are available online or at (877) 957-9777
4
Bodies - The Exhibit

4) Bodies - The Exhibit

This remarkable exhibit provides an intimate and informative view into the human body by using a unique process to preserve body parts so they can be displayed in a variety of eye opening presentations. More than 200 bodies were dissected to create the exhibit and although the subject matter may put you off, the curators have created unique ways for us to experience what it is that makes up a human body. You’ll be able to look inside a variety of body systems such as: skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and more. Although the exhibit is visually astounding, the focus revolves around educating us about our body systems. Over 15 million people worldwide have viewed this exhibit. The display is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm. General admission is $31 and children (4-12) are $23. Tickets are available at the box office or (702) 262-4000
5
City Center Fine Art Collection

5) City Center Fine Art Collection

City Center has installed a collection of sculptures and paintings that are as good as any collection in town. The trouble is, City Center is comprised of 5 separate structures so it takes a little walking to see them all. Among the artists represented are Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, Henry Moore and Richard Long. The Aria Hotel has 4 works, the Vdara has 4 works, the Mandarin Oriental has 4 works, the Veer Towers has 1, and the park and Harmon Hotel each have one. Some of the sculptures are huge and can’t be missed, but you may have to ask a lobby concierge where the paintings are. There is no charge to see the art and City Center is always open.
6
Erotic Heritage Museum

6) Erotic Heritage Museum

You’d have to figure that if a museum devoted to our erotic heritage was going to spring up, it would happen in Las Vegas. Everything else does. Although your first guess might peg this to be some sleazy warehouse with cubicles displaying porn artifacts, this is actually a clean, well-lit, bona fide museum that strives to explore the broad spectrum of erotic arts, and if this subject sparks your interest, you should definitely go. The 24,000 square foot museum opened in 2008 and has a variety of displays that range from mural art, peep show history, sculpture, photography, world erotica, toilet humor, First Amendment issues, and a history of the American Sexual Revolution of the 20th Century. Major shows and events are regularly changed so check their website or call to find out what’s going on. The museum is open Sunday thru Thursday 11 am to 3 pm, and Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 pm. Admission is 15$
7
Imperial Palace Auto Collection

7) Imperial Palace Auto Collection

If you’re a car buff, this is one stop you have to make. The Imperial Palace has a 125,000 square foot showroom that features over 250 World Class automobiles. Many of the cars once belonged to some kind of celebrity, but others are just one-of-a-kind classics. On display are several Duisenberg’s, a 1957 Jaguar XKSS valued at $7 million smackeroos, and cars once owned by Johnny Carson and W.C. Fields. The Auto Collections and their well-stocked gift shop are open daily from, 10am to 6pm. Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for kids.
8
Las Vegas Mob Experience

8) Las Vegas Mob Experience

For anyone interested in the mob, the crime bosses, or the countless murders and extortions that helped build or at least define Las Vegas, a trip to the Mob Experience might just be an offer you can’t refuse. Centered around firsthand accounts and an endless supply of artifacts and memorabilia, the Mob Experience illustrates the growth of organized crime in Nevada, its connections with major crime families in the east, and offers biographies of the major personalities from Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky to Ginacana and the Spilotros. The Mob Experience is located at the Tropicana Hotel. Admission is $30 for adults and $22 for kids. The exhibit is open from 10 am to 10 pm.
Image by New York Police Department under Creative Commons License.
9
Las Vegas Natural History Museum

9) Las Vegas Natural History Museum

If you love to connect to the natural world and explore the history of this planet and its inhabitants, this is the museum for you. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum has exhibits ranging from: King Tut’s Tomb, Marine Life, Wild Nevada, Prehistoric Life, the African Savanna, Prehistoric Mammals, and it’s all designed to awaken your inner “Indiana Jones.” Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Hours are 9 am to 4 pm daily. A buy one get one free coupon is available on their website.
10
Lied Discovery Children's Museum

10) Lied Discovery Children's Museum

The Lied Discovery Children’s Museum opened in 1990 and features over 100 hands-on exhibits guaranteed to amuse, entertain, and educate kids of all ages. In addition to the exhibits, the museum promotes a variety of educational programs. The science and art programs engage kids with presentations, experiments and workshop activities. The Early Childhood Education program strives to help pre-school children, and the Youthworks program is dedicated to mentoring and training at-risk kids. This is a marvelous facility and a great place to bring the whole family.

Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9 am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm, closed on Mondays. Admission is $8.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids.
11
Neon Museum

11) Neon Museum

This is one of my favorite subjects, Neon – with a big glowing “N-E-O-N.” The Neon Museum’s mission is to collect and preserve neon signs that have historical significance to the Las Vegas region. The museum is being built around a huge lot called the “boneyard” and features signs from the Hacienda, the Aladdin, Silver Slipper, Golden Nugget, Binion’s, and a hundred other landmarks. The Neon Museum is in the process of rehabilitating the historic La Concha Motel lobby for use as a visitor’s center, but it is not open yet and they will not accommodate walk-in visitors, so please check their website for updates. However, there is some good news. If you’re driving by at night, they’ve built a small neon park out front on Las Vegas Boulevard with some classic motel and restaurant signs flashing through the night. Go to their website for more information.
12
Carroll Shelby Museum

12) Carroll Shelby Museum

Who hasn’t heard of Carroll Shelby? Anyone who grew up with the Ford Mustang certainly has an appreciation for the performance and styling Mr. Shelby added. The museum is located at the north end of Las Vegas near the Las Vegas Speedway and has a collection of vintage and new Shelby modified cars. Admission is free and the hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm. They also have a free tour daily at 10:30. No reservation is required.
13
The Springs Preserve

13) The Springs Preserve

The Springs Preserve is a 180-acre cultural institution designed to commemorate Las Vegas’ storied history. The Preserve has museums, concerts and a beautiful garden with an interpretive trail system. Aside from that, the Preserve has a Desert Living Center that illustrates the latest LEED environmental possibilities as well as a design lab and patio gallery. The Origen Experience presents a “natural history” of the region via exhibits, galleries and a museum, and there is a 1.8-mile trail through the springs so you can see where Las Vegas got its name. And if you get hungry, there’s even a Wolfgang Puck café on the property. This is a very popular attraction and should be on everyone’s list of must-sees. The Preserve is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is $19 for adults and $11 for kids if you’re a non-resident of Nevada.
14
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

14) Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Although there’s been more than one career that’s hit rock bottom in Las Vegas, none can compare with the Titanic. The Luxor brings the “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” to Las Vegas. The 25,000-square-foot exhibit features memorabilia salvaged from the Titanic, including luggage, the ship's whistles, floor tiles from the first-class smoking room, a window frame from the Verandah Cafe and an unopened bottle of champagne with a 1900 vintage. In addition, the exhibit features a piece of Titanic’s hull, a full-scale re-creation of the Grand Staircase as well as a newly expanded outer Promenade Deck, complete with the frigid temperatures felt on that fateful April night.

Admission is $28 for adults and $21 for kids and the exhibit can be viewed from 10 am – 10 pm daily.
15
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

15) Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud invites you to come and party with some of her famous wax friends. No sooner do you become a celebrity than you’re immortalized in wax and put on display. Figures range from Lady Gaga to Evil Knievel, and Muhammad Ali. And get this, you can get married at Madame Tussaud’s and have Mick Jagger and Madonna as your best man and maid of honor. Creating wax figures by Madame Tussaud dates back to the 17th Century France and her legacy has survived to this day. The museum is over 30,000 square feet, covers two floors and has a variety of celebrity themes including Vegas Legends, Hollywood celebrities, Rock stars, Sport’s Heroes, and World Leaders. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids, but if you buy them from their website you’ll save 25%. The museum opens at 10 am and closing times vary, so call in advance.
16
The Mob Museum

16) The Mob Museum

Not to be confused with the Mob Experience at the Tropicana, the Mob Museum presents interactive displays and genuine artifacts as it leads you through the history of a time when organized crime had a stranglehold on Las Vegas. The museum is located in an old federal courthouse where many of the mob bosses faced hearings. The city owns the property and a non-profit group was formed with the help of the Mayor, Oscar Goodman, to oversee and administrate the museum’s operations. Admission prices and hours are not available at this time. The museum is expected to open in the spring of 2011, so call in advance.
17
Lightscapes at the Fremont Street Experience

17) Lightscapes at the Fremont Street Experience

Not only is the Fremont Street Experience a major entertainment attraction showcasing musicians, artists and street performers, Lightscapes, the brilliant light show presented on the Fremont Street canopy, has been recognized as one of the top 20 public artworks in the country. Lightscapes is a program of the Las Vegas Arts Commission in partnership with the Fremont Street Experience that presents epic scale video art installation projects in downtown Las Vegas on the Fremont Street's Viva Vision screen. Originated in 2000, the Lightscapes series has featured projects from some of the most gifted video artists in the country. Viva Vision is the largest video screen in the world. Standing 90 feet tall and spanning four city blocks, the light show incorporates 12.5 million high-definition LED modules that are synchronized to a 555,000-watt concert quality sound system. The shows start at dark and runs every hour on the hour.
Image by Blane under Creative Commons License.
18
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

18) Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

Shark Reef is one of the most prestigious saltwater aquariums in the country and is home to more than 1,200 species of sharks, fish, reptiles, rays, and marine invertebrates. Opened in 2000, the 2 million gallon Shark Reef has become a popular place for families to explore the underwater world on their own or on a tour. In addition to the popular glass aquarium tunnel, there are exhibits with crocodiles, fresh water fish, touch pools and more, but the sharks are the main attraction with more than a hundred on display representing more than fifteen species and some are as large as 14 feet in length. They’ve even added an eight-foot long Komodo Dragon to the exhibit. The aquarium is open daily from 10am to 8pm and 10pm on the weekends. Cost is $17 for adults and $11 for children 5-12. Tours run every half hour.
Image by Stormy Dog under Creative Commons License.

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


20 Souvenirs to Bring Home from Las Vegas

20 Souvenirs to Bring Home from Las Vegas

You may have kept on the run, had some fun in Las Vegas and, unless it cost you the very last dime, you might want to pick up something memorable to bring home, other than a handful of uncashed casino chips. In fact, you might as well be surprised to know there is something else in Vegas, apart from...
Top 24 Buffets in Las Vegas

Top 24 Buffets in Las Vegas

In 1941, Thomas Hull, the man behind the Strip’s first hotel the El Rancho Vegas, realized that even though he might lose a few dollars by offering an “all you can eat” buffet,” the reward of funneling thousands of hungry gamblers through his casino to get to the buffet would more than pay...
15 Best Food Destinations in Las Vegas

15 Best Food Destinations in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a long-standing history of great restaurants. The city has grown so fast in the last decades, seeing many celebrity chefs in the world of culinary setting up multiple craft food establishments in either mega-resort hotels or private entities off-the-Strip, that now it is practically...