"Las Vegas was regarded as an “open city,” meaning that no one crime syndicate could dominate the town. It was an enticing place for mobsters to start fresh..."
- Ashley Miller, Senior Director at The Mob Museum
Ashley Miller, Senior Director at The Mob Museum talks to us about the dark underbelly of organised crime in Las Vegas and around the world. From illegal gambling, prohibition, organised gangs and the law enforcement officers who set out to stop them, Ashley tells us about her favourite exhibits at one of the must-see attractions in Las Vegas.
TTG: Could you give us a run through of your day to day at the Mob Museum, what are your main responsibilities?
AM: There is no typical day in this role, and I love it! I am responsible for developing and implementing PR & marketing strategies, digital initiatives, partnerships, promotions, sales and research for the Museum. Some days are spent cultivating relationships with partners, others are spent crafting the next moonshine flavour for our latest exhibition focusing on prohibition history, There is never a dull moment, and the amount of creativity that comes from our organisation is endless.
TTG: Las Vegas has a huge affiliation with gambling – how does this relate to ‘the mob’ and organised crime?
AM: As law enforcement across the nation cracked down on illegal gambling, mobsters cast their eyes toward Las Vegas. Nevada legalised gambling in 1931, and Las Vegas was regarded as an “open city,” meaning that no one crime syndicate could dominate the town. That made it an enticing place for mobsters nationwide to start fresh and launch new ventures.
"Within the walls of The Mob Museum are stories about the people who changed the face of crime and law enforcement forever"
- Ashley Miller
TTG: Do you have any favourite mob characters from the history of organised crime in Las Vegas; can you share some stories about these individuals?
AM: Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith the famous prohibition agents. Between 1920 and 1925, the pair went to outlandish lengths, dressed in costumes and other disguises, to arrest nearly 5,000 suspected violators of the Volstead Act, which prohibited the sale of alcohol across the United States.
TTG: What is your favourite exhibition at the Mob Museum and why?
AM: Within the walls of The Mob Museum are stories about the people who changed the face of crime and law enforcement forever. There are so many well-crafted exhibit spaces within the Museum. From bootlegging during Prohibition to human trafficking, counterfeiting and cybercrime today, organised crime has impacted society and, unfortunately, continues to do so today. We share those stories through a variety of ways, be it exhibition space, interactive experiences or videos.
TTG: What unique experiences can visitors expect to take part in on a visit to the museum?
AM: The museum recently debuted its major first-floor renovation, which included a brand-new exhibition space called Organized Crime Today, focusing on the modernisation and evolution of organised crime in the present day.
Thanks to countless pop culture references and notorious 20th-century organised crime figures such as Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel and John Gotti, the concept of organised crime calls to mind images of bygone eras when speakeasies, Mob-run casinos and infamous Mafia families thrived. But organised crime is still an issue around the world today, and is carried out in a much more sophisticated manner than their Tommy gun wielding predecessors.
Featuring artefacts, graphics and a large, interactive, 17-foot-wide Global Networks touchscreen wall, the Organised Crime Today exhibition brings the story of organised crime into the present day. In addition to covering present-day rackets, Organized Crime Today explores active crime groups—such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, Yakuza, Mexican cartels, Eastern European mafias and MS-13—and the international array of law enforcement agencies that seek to eradicate them.
One of two new experiential spaces that explore law enforcement methods of identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting criminals, the Use of Force Training Experience places guests in the shoes of law enforcement officers. Guests will engage in an intensive training session using both digital and live role-playing scenarios that demonstrate the speed and complexity required for use of force decisions.
The Crime Lab Experience offers guests a hands-on, interactive exploration of five different forensic science topics. Guided by a Museum Educator, guests explore the Crime Lab’s original multimedia exhibits containing insights from forensic science experts. While spending time at each station, guests will acquire a foundational understanding of scientific techniques used to conduct death investigation, DNA profiling, fingerprint analysis, crime scene investigation and firearms examination.
TTG: Are there any new exhibits or displays coming to the Mob Museum in 2018?
AM: The final phase of the Museum’s renovation and expansion will be completed this April, with the opening of the enhanced prohibition history exhibition, The Underground, which will include a working speakeasy and distillery. Here users will be able to create and taste their very own moonshine flavours from our distillery
TTG: What advice would give someone who is visiting Las Vegas for the very first time, what would you tell him or her to see/do/eat?
AM: Come to The Mob Museum immediately.
Visit Oscar’s Steakhouse. This is the Vegas experience you’ve heard about. It’s an elegant atmosphere to enjoy a steak dinner, with floor-to-ceiling windows to drink in the surrounding neon.
Oak + Ivy — Nestled in the heart of downtown, and right down the street from the Museum, Oak + Ivy serves up whiskey, cocktails, craft beer, and a provides a lovely experience for locals and tourist alike.