Las Vegas Sun

June 19, 2021

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EDITORIAL:

You can’t put a price on the service, goodwill of our ‘rock-star curator’

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Mikayla Whitmore

Mark Hall-Patton guides a small tour through a Fallout Shelter in Las Vegas, Nev. on November 2, 2017.

Mark Hall-Patton is best known by TV audiences worldwide as the historian who shows up periodically on “Pawn Stars” to examine items brought to the store for authenticity. The affable Hall-Patton — looking like he teleported from the Wild West with his trademark beard and wide-brimmed hat — has been a wonderful ambassador for Las Vegas through these cameos with his authoritative knowledge and passion for history.

But locals know those TV appearances represent only part of the affable Hall-Patton’s value to our community. In his “day job” as Clark County museum director for the past 14 years, he’s introduced thousands of local residents to the history of our community and enriched the knowledge of many more.

Now, after serving the Las Vegas Valley so well, the “Beard of Knowledge” is retiring. As the Clark County Commission prepares to recognize him today, we add our voice to those thanking him for his service and wishing him a happy retirement.

Hall-Patton came to the area in 1993, when was hired as administrator of the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum inside McCarran International Airport. The California transplant had previously served in administrative roles at museums in Anaheim and San Luis Obispo County.

It was in his role with the aviation museum where he developed his adeptness at video production and on-camera work, as he developed several video projects focusing on barnstorming, the history of McCarran and other similar topics.

In 2009, “Pawn Stars” approached him to become a resident authenticator. He was an immediate hit with audiences thanks to a combination of his command of the subject and his avuncular screen presence.

Soon he was being recognized everywhere he went as he became, in the words of “Pawn Stars” frontman Rick Harrison, the world’s only “rock-star curator.”

Hall-Patton would go on to make more than 200 appearances in his unpaid role. In the process, he lost some of his privacy — he joked that he experienced all of the fame but none of the fortune.

But his personal sacrifice brought community gains. Visitation to the Clark County Museum, located on a 30-acre property along Boulder Highway in Henderson, has nearly doubled since he began appearing on the show.

Meanwhile, Hall-Patton kept banging out his own video projects and, as social media blossomed, using those platforms to inform the world about our region’s history. According to Clark County, he has written 85 local or regional history articles, monographs, or book chapters, and provided the text for more than 50 local historical plaques located throughout Southern Nevada.

Hall-Patton, 66, said he chose to step down because the museum had finished the major restoration projects it had undertaken under his watch. But while the timing was right for him to step away from that position, he isn’t done with his educational mission: He’ll keep appearing on “Pawn Stars” while working on several book projects.

That’s terrific. This one-of-a-kind historian is a perfect representative for our unique and colorful community. Like the millions who watch Hall-Patton on TV, we’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming from him next.