It’s telling, I think, that the history of a doomed ocean liner is center stage on the Strip, but a history museum that actually details the story of Sin City itself is relegated to the side of the highway, about 10 miles southeast of the center. (This is a city after all with a penchant for bulldozing over its history and for imploding anything that gets in the way of bigger profits.) Which is a shame because the Clark County Heritage Museum is a real gem, chockablock with richly evocative artifacts and interactive exhibits detailing the story of the area, from Native Americans through gangsters through the pack of corporate thieves who control the Strip today. And for a museum set this far off the Strip, and so cheap to visit, it’s startlingly high tech: Sensors turn on narration, sound effects, and even visual effects whenever a visitor enters a gallery, and many of the exhibits are interactive. Highlights are half a dozen actual houses that you wander through, hearing about the lives of the real people who lived in them at different times in the area’s history, from a Paiute twig hut village to a house lived in by men involved in the construction of the Hoover dam, to a gold miner’s house and a 1960s abode from the Atomic Testing Site. Back outside is a garden with native plants, all well marked along winding trails. The downside: Because it is a good, long drive from the Strip, you’ll need a rental car to get here. A taxi really isn’t practical.
- Rick Garman