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.
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.
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.
Home of Las Vegas’ first traffic light and high-rise building, Fremont Street keeps fans of vintage Vegas consistently starstruck, with lavish celebrations thrown by the landmark's eponymous party-planning committee. As 2011 wanes, the TributePalooza celebration shreds resolutions into neon ticker tape with eight hours of crowd-pleasing rock strewn across three stages. Headlining the event, raucous hair-metal heroes Steel Panther glam it up with unabashedly goofy stage moves and unapologetic spandex. Following suit with headbanging levity, fellow silly-string strummers Rock Sugar mash up sound-pies of ‘80s pop and mascara metal, creating laughter you can dance to.
Chuck Jones's imagination was simply too vast and too wild to be contained. Throughout the 20th century, it spread to television and theater screens around the world, and it spawned beloved characters including Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, who continue to run amok throughout homes in America.
At The Chuck Jones Experience in the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, visitors of all ages can delve into the mind and life of the legendary cartoonist, exploring his original artwork and letters in addition to interactive exhibits. Mr. Jones lights up the silver screen in a 1930s-style movie theater, where viewers take in facts about his life and life's work, and haunts guests in his personal studio, where his characters still live on. Visitors can meet life-size forms of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the whole gang before stepping into the ACME workshop to create sound effects and voice-overs for cartoons. The Chuck Jones Experience also hosts creative programs for children, teenagers, and adults who share the belief that no duck should ever be without an anvil.