Las Vegas Dreams of a Contemporary Art Museum


With the recent news that Las Vegas is gaining an NFL football team and an NHL hockey team, along with speculation that other major sports will follow, the evolution of the casino city from a gambler’s paradise to an entertainment destination continues.

The Nevada city is party paradise like Miami. Some think there’s a logic to Contemporary art becoming institutionalized there. It’s no secret that Steve Wynn has used art as spectacle to differentiate several of his properties. Unfortunately, that has never translated into a non-profit entity. Not that there has been a lack of trying as Carol Cling maps out in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

When I arrived in Las Vegas in the 1980s, the Nevada Institute of Contemporary Art was the great art hope, attracting such high-profile supporters as (pre-divorce) casino owners Steve and Elaine Wynn. (They ended up including art galleries at their Bellagio and Wynn megaresorts.)

The Las Vegas Art Museum, founded in 1950 as an art league, has a permanent collection, too. It’s now based at UNLV’s Barrick Museum of Art, because the Las Vegas Art Museum — which operated from 1997 to 2009 at the Sahara West Library — shut down in 2009, swamped by the financial tsunami.

In 2013, downtown proponents announced a $29 million project dubbed the Modern Contemporary Art Museum.

As Cling explains, that last project fizzled. Now there’s a movement, including a promise of land, to give it another go.