Reopenings: The Mob Museum

By Megan Anderson, Manager of Exhibits & Interpretive Planning

Our friends at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, reopened their doors to the public at the end of May when state and local authorities lifted restrictions. I chatted with their team about how the visitor experience has changed and what they’re doing to keep people safe.

Q: What measures have you taken to ensure the safety of staff and visitors?

During the closure, our team has been working unceasingly, with a singular focus: creating a museum environment that carefully considers personal well-being within the new realities of public engagement. We have applied the very same high standards that have guided the creation of our exhibits, programs, and other guest amenities. 

First, we’re asking visitors to purchase timed tickets in advance on our website, themobmuseum.org. We then perform a wellness check before permitting entry into the museum by using a no-contact thermometer. Temperature checks for our employees, volunteers, vendors, and guests will help keep us all safe.

Once inside, per Governor Steve Sisolak’s directive, we ask all of our museum guests to wear face masks for the entirety of their visits. We have Mob Museum branded face masks available for purchase. For our interactive experiences, we’re offering guests gloves and styluses. We’ve limited entry to the museum to about one-third of our regular operating capacity, and each exhibit space will be kept to half of the posted fire code occupancy.

We’ve also hired a hospital-grade cleaning service to sanitize the museum at the end of each day. Any equipment used for long periods of time by guests, like audio tour devices, is sterilized by UV light. Even our HVAC system got an upgrade to keep our guests breathing easy.

All of these measures were evaluated according to guidelines set forth by local and federal organizations, as well as industry best practices. These changes signified a sizable investment for the museum—but a worthwhile one if it keeps our doors open.

The Mob Museum has used its resources for good, producing house-made hand sanitizer for guests and the local community in the museum’s working, onsite distillery. Image courtesy of the Mob Museum

Q: Producing hand sanitizer sounds like an interesting undertaking, what went into that?

Early on in the pandemic when the demand for hand sanitizer became evident, we realized we were well-positioned to produce it. Our Prohibition exhibit, The Underground, includes a working distillery where visitors can learn how bootleggers distilled liquor and sample authentic moonshine. Using our facilities to make hand sanitizer was a no-brainer. The Mob Museum’s hand sanitizer, which follows FDA-issued guidance, is currently being offered in two sizes: 1-ounce bottles and commercial, gallon-size containers. Custom messaging and logo options are available for the 1-ounce bottles, please email sales@themobmuseum.org for more information. We’ve also donated hand sanitizer to several local non-profit organizations in need. More information about our hand sanitizer, purchase options, and donation program is available on our website.

Q: What do you want the public to know about the changes you’ve made?

We worked tirelessly for months prior to our reopening to come up with a plan to safely bring our visitors back. We recognize that it’s a different experience – but we think you’ll find our staff is happy to have you. We understand that some may not feel comfortable visiting in person. We want to accommodate virtual visitors, too, so we’ve enhanced digital content, including educational outreach, online exhibits, virtual tours, blogs, and more. Please visit www.themobmuseum.org or download The Mob Museum app for free on all Apple and Android devices.

The Mob Museum app includes the “Doppelgangster” feature, which allows users to find and learn about their mobster look-alike. Image courtesy of the Mob Museum via the Apple App Store

Q: How has the museum experience changed as a result?

We’ve always sought to provide a world-class experience for our guests. We know from recent guest surveys we received a 9.34 on a scale of 1 to 10 asking guests how likely they are to recommend the Museum to friends and/or family, which is consistent with years past, demonstrating guests are still very pleased with the overall experience. As survey results indicate, guests are very satisfied with the Museum’s enhanced safety procedures with 85% of visitors saying these protocols positively impacted their experience. The weighted average of guests who are likely to recommend the Museum to friends and/or family is at 9.34, which is on par with 2019’s recommendation rating average (9.30). 

The experience is new and different. We’re asking that our guests be mindful and move through the museum carefully. It will take some time to adjust to the “new normal,” but we are dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment. On the flip side, fewer people in the galleries will give you more space to take in the exhibits.

What do reopening plans look like at your institution? We’d love to hear from you! Please reach out to Jen Giambrone (jgiambrone@historyassociates.com) to discuss having your museum, historical site, library, or archive featured on our blog.

The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on cultural institutions. If you can, consider making a donation to show your support.

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