Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mob Museum In The D.C. Crossfire

[Update: Norm Clarke led today's column with this very blog post and Barack Obama was asked on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos about comments in my NYT piece. The prez-to-be responded: "We don't want is this thing to be a Christmas tree loaded up with a whole bunch of pet projects that people have for their local communities."]

If you couldn't tell from this bit of screen-shot imagery...


...from this Thursday post, I was working at the time on a piece that appears in today's New York Times about the flap over whether federal stimulus money should go towards the $50 million Mob Museum planned for the old federal building in downtown Vegas. (Yes, the thing is technically called the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, but its website URL is, in fact, TheMobMuseum.Org.) LV Mayor Oscar Goodman and others don't see why not, but both Democrats and Republicans say that's the sort of localized project that would start making the stimulus package look like a Christmas tree.

For the piece, we obtained two renderings of the museum, which is supposed to open in 2010 but for which only $15 million of the $50 million budget has been raised. In the NYT today, they published only one, so I thought I'd provide both here, courtesy of Dennis Barrie, the creative director. (Barrie also did the International Spy Museum in DC, the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland and the Woodstock Museum in upstate New York. He was also arrested for displaying those naughty Mapplethorpe pictures in the late 1980s in Cincinnati.)

In addition to that, I had one terrific quote from the mayor that I was unable to include in my story but is sure to tick off more than a few arts lovers around town. I asked him to explain how he came up with the idea for the mob museum. He noted that the deal with the federal government for the deed on the old post office and federal building, where some of the landmark Kefauver hearings took place in 1950, was that it be used for a cultural/museum attraction.

Said the Happiest Mayor Alive:

"I’m saying to myself, although my mother was a great artist, nobody’s going to come to downtown Las Vegas to look at paintings, they’re not going to look at watercolors, they're not going to look at porcelain, they’re not going to look at miniature trains. What will they look at? They’ll look at something that’s really embedded in history, that makes us unique and distinctive from any other city, that has a historical nexus, a keystone because of the Kefauver hearings, and I said, 'A mob museum!' And I think it’s a natural."

Is he right?


John said...

I read the NY Times story today. I liked the quote from Goodwin saying that all the talk about this is worth a million in publicity, just be sure they spell my name right.

Is he worried people are going to start spelling it "Goodgin" and think that's his real last name?

GregoryZephyr said...

What in the world is the mural depicting in the second rendering? At first I thought it was Lincoln on his deathbed (which makes no sense in a mob museum). Upon closer inspection it looks like the morning after a backroom version of the World Series of Poker! It's an interesting image. Any insight?

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