It’s always nice to see a bit of reverse brain-drain when a talented person actually returns to Las Vegas. It's like an intellectual return-flow credit that helps balance all the smart people who’ve left for good. That’ll happen later this month when my old pal Geoff Schumacher comes back to his longtime home to become the Mob Museum’s director of content development, a newly created position.
Need a memory prod? Geoff was a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada — at the Las Vegas Sun; as the editor and later publisher of Las Vegas CityLife (where he hired me as editor), as well as other Stephens Media niche publications. You might remember him as a rare voice-of-reason columnist in the paper’s op-ed cuckoo’s nest, back when it was really squawking. He wrote a definitive volume of local history, Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas, and a comprehensive account of Howard Hughes’ Vegas years, Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue. In 2011, Geoff left to run Stephens’ newspapers in Iowa. But just when he thought he was out for good, Vegas is bringing him back, this time to indulge his love of Vegas history.
So, aside from trying on mob-style nicknames — I picture him weighing “Baby Face” Schumacher against “Pretty Boy” Schumacher — what will he do as director of content development? “The contents of the museum were assembled and fashioned into the current exhibits by expert contractors brought in before the museum's opening,” he explains. “They did a fantastic job, but here we are two years later, and it's time to think about how the museum will evolve going forward. It can't remain static. So one of my key jobs will be to come up with new exhibits and take the lead in determining how new stories will be told in the museum.” He’ll also work on the museum’s website, public events, educational materials and the acquisition and verification of new items for display.
“It’s not that different, really,” he says of the switch to mob scholarship from newspapering, his career for 25 years. “I still will be writing, editing, telling stories. Accuracy remains an essential tenet of this work. I will delve even deeper into history than I was before.”
"We are delighted that Geoff Schumacher is returning to Las Vegas to join The Mob Museum," says Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Ullman. "Geoff will bring a wealth of knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to a newly created position leading the development of content for our onsite and online experiences. Geoff is a scholar and an expert storyteller, both of which will translate perfectly into the museum environment."
Says Mob Museum board member and historian Michael Green: “We hired him for his looks.” (Sounds like a vote for “Pretty Boy”! Adds Green, "At least he isn't Scarface.")
Seriously, though, “Geoff has an incredible knowledge of the area’s history, and that includes the roles played by law enforcement and organized crime not just in Southern Nevada, but everywhere else," Green says. "His journalism background means that he knows how to communicate with the public — and that's so important to what a museum like this one does.
"It's also great that he's coming home.”