The 8,000-square-foot National Atomic Testing Museum, located just off the Strip, unveils the fascinating history of the famed Nevada test site. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum has a growing collection of permanent and special exhibitions. Boots quake as visitors experience a simulated atomic blast, and another exhibit details the Manhattan Project, the U.S.'s massive undertaking to create the first atomic bomb. Firsthand accounts of nuclear tests put museum-goers in the shoes of blast eyewitnesses; there's also a poignant exhibit that includes a 6-foot I-beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The museum volunteer tour guides act as exhibit interpreters, encouraging hands-on exploration and teaching how to divide atoms using nothing more than a good set of kitchen cutlery.
Although most people traditionally try to steer clear of the world of organized crime, Mob Attraction Las Vegas pulls them back in with an interactive journey into the gritty underworld. Inside the museum’s recently upgraded space, guests face off with actors and 3D holograms of famous film crime bosses, such as James Caan and Frank Vincent. A collection of authentic, never-before-seen memorabilia, photos, and videos marries museum-like intrigue with performance art, granting an unprecedented access into the private lives of real gangsters such as Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Tony Spilotro, and Meyer Lansky.
Bodies…The Exhibition hosts more than 200 actual human bodies and specimens, dissected and respectfully displayed for views to explore and discover the inner workings of the human machine. Bodies preserved with polymer techniques showcase systems such as the skeletal structure, an impressive collection of more than 100 joints, hearty bones, and retractable claws. Small, beet-red vines of blood weave through the exposed circulatory system’s arterial pathways and veinous tollbooths. Gaze upon cross-sections of the food-consuming digestive system, or glimpse the complex web of the nervous system's information-processing nerves.
When Rev. Ted McIlvenna and photographer Harry Mohney joined forces to create the Erotic Heritage Museum, they wanted a space that celebrated sexual pleasure and individual sexuality—two vital, natural aspects of the human experience. From galleries of vintage adult-film posters and Playboy covers to rare books of erotic art, the artifacts amassed in the more than 24,000-square-foot museum explore human sexuality's impacts on the arts. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal observed, approximately 50 monitors screen vintage films from the turn of the 20th century through the revolutionary film Deep Throat, and mannequins re-create the behind-the-scenes production sets of erotic works. Among the other exhibits, antique adult toys trace the history of pleasure, records of first-amendment disputes illustrate the ongoing fight for sexual expression, and Larry Flynt’s gold-plated wheelchair memorializes the day Flynt accidentally bumped into King Midas in an elevator. Throughout the year, special events further explore and examine sensuality through erotic poetry, naked yoga, and lectures.
Madame Tussaud began crafting wax likenesses in 1770s Paris, and a sense of history clings to her wax museums around the globe today—according to the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventurers, the location is haunted by unsettled spirits. By day, the collection of wax sculptures fills the serene exhibits with characters ranging from daredevil Evel Knievel (complete with his original Harley Davidson and good-luck teddy bear) to Lady Gaga and Whoopi Goldberg. A Hugh Hefner figure, wearing the Playboy magnate’s signature smoking jacket, reclines on a bed, and a nightclub-themed section of the museum honors Las Vegas’s entertainment history with a waxen Elvis and Wayne Newton.
Velvet ropes no longer cordon figures off from the public, granting guests up-close-and-personal photo ops. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas honors its spooky roots with special late-night Scream events, a shriek-inducing tour through a maximum-security prison set interspersed with ghoulish wax figures and live actors.
Outside of Graceland, The King's Ransom Museum showcases one of the largest collections of artifacts and personal treasures owned by Elvis Presley. Curated by Elvis historian Bud Glass and collector Russ Howe, the exhibit encompasses artifacts that span Presley's career from 1950 until his death. Highlights include familiar wardrobe pieces he donned on stage and screen, such as a custom two-piece leather suit and his massive ring from the 1972 documentary Elvis on Tour. The museum also houses large jewelry and gun and badge collections assembled by the "King of Bling," as well as the last car Presley ever purchased and other historic artifacts from his youth.
The museum also delves into Presley's private life, displaying more-personal effects such as the custom, red crushed-velvet bedspread from his Graceland home and his pajamas, whose dry-cleaning slips have been lost forever. To supplement these artifacts, Russ and Bud incorporate plenty of the King's private photos and home movies. On select days, the museum welcomes guest appearances from some of Presley's friends and colleagues, such as his Blue Hawaii costar Darlene Tompkins and his Kissin' Cousins costar Cynthia Pepper.
Comic-book heroes and villains will burst from finely inked pages at the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. With three days of programming, fans of comics, sci-fi, and anime can stoke their imaginations by meeting artists, gaming, or gussying up for a costume contest. The works of artists and exhibitors will permeate the expo, with tables and booths pinned with pages from their most famous projects. Some notable guests will include Jim Lee, an artist who has penned the indestructible sheen that glistens off Iron Man’s chest, and Stan Lee, the artist and conceptual designer who dreamed up Spider-Man, the X-Men, and more.