In a recent article we had a good look at the gallery within a casino – the Bellagio’s purpose built exhibition space within the casino on Las Vegas’ famous strip. Las Vegas would of course normally be regarded as a haven for those who prefer to play Keno, Roulette, Poker, Blackjack and Craps. As we don’t want to give the impression that Las Vegas is something of a desert (no pun intended) in relation to art, we though we’d have a look at what is possibly Vegas’ best known art gallery.
Las Vegas has grown at an amazing speed in the past half-century which should give the reader some impression of the type of environment that existed in this desert location in 1950. So it took some far-sighted art visionaries to plan what would later become the Las Vegas Art Museum. The first step was to create the Las Vegas Art League which was soon housed at the City-owned Lorenzi park ranch house.
Here it remained, away from the gambling areas of the strip until 1974 when it was renamed the Las Vegas Art Museum (LVAM). Unsurprisingly it was the first fine arts museum not just in Las Vegas but in the whole of Nevada.
In the mid-1990s the LVAM was ejected from it’s original home but offered a space in the planned Sahara Library and Fine Art Museum. Completed in 1997, this is a striking building which certainly does justice to the art which is contained inside. During this era it had a short affiliation with the Smithsonian Institute in the early years and was able to display work by Rodin and Dale Chihuly.
Now to the sad news – the LVAM shut it’s doors early in 2009 citing a lack of resources. Las Vegas as a whole has suffered as a result of the faltering global economy – even the gaming tables of the casinos have noticed a fall in tourist numbers and expenditure – so a reduction in the museums income is no great surprise. The slightly cheerier news is that the LVAM hopes to reopen when the economy improves.