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The museums of Nevada cover many subjects, from burlesque queens to silver miners, neon signs to railroad cars and memorabilia belonging to legendary figures from Wyatt Earp to Gypsy Rose Lee. Check out a dozen of the state’s finest and most unusual collections.
The Discovery Children’s Museum has plenty to keep kids of all ages amused, whether toddlers or pre-teens. Located adjacent to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the 58,000-square ft facility contains interactive areas, changing displays and a number of events. Kids can try out future careers in an interactive mini-town, walk though a giant ear or sing karaoke in the “Tokyo” segment of the Japan exhibit.
The Lost City Museum examines the Native American history of Southern Nevada. Located near Boulder City, it exhibits artifacts from nearby archaeological sites. The museum contains ruins, as well as a set of reconstructed Anasazi pueblos. The museum also hosts lectures and workshops of special interest to fans of history and archaeology.
The National Automobile Museum is a mecca for fans of automotive history and design. On display you’ll find a multitude of machines, including classic cars, sports cars and race cars, with exhibits on everything from the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race to Moon rovers. Highlights of the collection include vehicles that belonged to Lana Turner, Sammy Davis Jr. and JFK.
Since opening in 1996, the Neon Museum has become one of Las Vegas’ most popular attractions. Located near downtown, it’s a collection of signage from many of the city’s properties, from legendary casinos like the Stardust and Riviera to small businesses like wedding chapels and dry cleaners. Some signs have been restored and re-lit, others lie dormant but are still beautiful specimens of design and history. The museum’s “Brilliant!” program used projections to re-animate dormant signs with a musical soundtrack.
The Nevada Museum of Art features works in a variety of formats by both international artists and those from the Nevada community. The museum frequently hosts visiting exhibits and also boasts a permanent collection from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The NMA’s Center for Art + Environment explores the practice and study of how people interact creatively with their environments; the museum also collaborated on the Seven Magic Mountains installation in Southern Nevada.
Sometimes, the museum itself is part of the exhibit, as is the case with the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. Located in the former Carson City Mint, its collection includes mummies and mammoths, Navajo pottery and French posters. The museum also houses the Marjorie Russell Clothing and Research Center and hosts a variety of lectures, activities and kids’ programs.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum celebrates the state’s historic railroads—and even gives guests an opportunity to experience one themselves. The Nevada Southern Railway travels along a track once used to carry supplies to the Boulder Dam and lets riders have the old-time big locomotive experience with a side of scenery. The museum also has a number of grounded train cars for visitors to explore, as well as a collection of model trains.