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Museums for Teens in Vegas

Vegas is a teenager, compared with other U.S. cities, just beginning to show the cultural depth that others take for granted.

 

Vegas has such an oversized image that most people don’t realize it was barely 10 years ago that the valley’s population reached the one million mark. That means the city has had less than a decade to develop the kind of cultural richness that larger cities take for granted. So don’t expect to spend days touring our local art or natural history museums, they—like most of our local cultural experiences—can be pretty thoroughly covered in an afternoon.

Sometimes, however, smaller really is better. Instead of being overwhelmed by a cornucopia of offerings, Las Vegas museums tend to cover tiny subjects well. These bite-size museums let kids digest just enough to satisfy them. And when they aren’t being force-fed good-for-you culture, they may just beg for more.

Natural History 

Parents who are interested in history won’t want to miss the Las Vegas Springs Preserve (tel. 702-822-7700), a 180-acre historical and environmental complex that explains why Las Vegas (“the meadows” in Spanish) is situated above a one-time lush meadowland with bubbling springs. www.springspreserve.org

The Nevada State Museum (tel. 702-486-5205), relocating to Springs Preserve in 2009, looks at The Meadows from its prehistory forward. nevadaculture.org

Strange Science  

Families will get a dose of radioactive history if they stop by the Atomic Testing Museum (tel. 702-794-5161) affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute. The museum offers a shocking account of Nevada’s role in developing the atomic bomb. www.atomictestingmuseum.org

The human body has always been a source of artistic inspiration, but in Bodies...The Exhibition (tel. 800-557-7428) actual, preserved human bodies are displayed in fascinating—or creepy—detail. www.luxor.com

Art and Music Exhibitions

Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (tel. 877-957-9777), which works with world-class museums to develop exclusive shows exhibits for Vegas that show a unique aspect of a specific artist or art movement. The current exhibition showcases American Modernism, organized by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. www.bellagio.com

Music lovers simply must stop by the Liberace Museum (tel. 702-798-5595). This masterful pianist and showman’s estate continues to contribute thousands of dollars in performing-arts scholarships to kids around the country, decades after his death. You can hear why he is so beloved as his music plays while you wander from rhinestone piano to glitzy costumes and over-the-top automobiles. www.liberace.org

Around the World

King Tut’s Tomb & Museum (tel. 702-262-4500) recreates the burial chamber of the boy king as it was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, complete with the broken artifacts left by previous tomb robbers and the magnificent guardian statues. Previously at the Luxor Hotel and Casino, the King Tut exhibit has been donated permanently to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum; it will reopen in 2010. www.lvnhm.org

Walk through a full-scale recreation of the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (tel. 800-557-7428) complete with the outer Promenade Deck, the Grand Staircase and various other rooms including first-class and third-class hallways and an iceberg wall that you can touch, along with 320 other never-before-seen artifacts. www.luxor.com

 

[An earlier version of this article appeared on our test site; it included Star Trek: The Experience exhibit, which has since closed.]


Destinations: Las Vegas

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Museums


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