Should the government pay for a mob museum? The proposed $50 million Mob Museum in Las Vegas
has sparked controversy. The museum backers say the museum is a serious enterprise that will look at organized crime and law enforcement. But in recent weeks there has been discussion over whether or not a federal stimulus package should help pay for the museum. The museum would include popular depictions of the mob and is expected to bring 250,000 tourists a year to the attraction which is set to open in 2010 in a three-story neoclassical building that was the first federal courthouse in Clark County . As the NY Times reported last month,
the courthouse needed a $26 million restoration. Around $15 million has been raised
so far, about half of which has come from federal grants and state and local money. There is concern whether or not the museum will romanticize or glamorize criminal activity. A designer working for the museum already picked up some of Tony Soprano's wardrobe at the Christie's auction last summer.
The museum is currently working on a big fundraising push as the museum's construction begins. With museums in trouble all around the country and the economy in a deep low any museum faces an uphill climb for funding. Also tourism to Las Vegas has dropped off in recent months and museums on the Las Vegas Strip never did take off the way they hoped
. The long history of mob movies and television shows that there is a public interest in the subject at least on a fictional level but it is unclear if that wil translate into museum attendance.