During the Las Vegas Art Museum’s final years, one problem nagged its programming: no permanent collection on display. Much of this, of course, was due to the vast but limited space at its Sahara West Library home, a situation that also forced the museum to close while switching out exhibits.
But come September 18, when UNLV’s Barrick Museum opens anew, the community will get a look at what’s been sitting in LVAM’s back room since its doors shut in 2009. Barrick’s gallery has been revamped to accommodate the collection of contemporary works, and to mark its arrival, UNLV (which will oversee the works in partnership with LVAM) will offer multiple ways for the public to view the roughly 200 pieces, many of which are by former UNLV students who studied under Dave Hickey. For example, works will be on display inside the entrance halls of Artemus Ham Hall, and Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery will host a five-week exhibit. Officials say Barrick’s own display will likely continue throughout the year.
Barrick closed in spring to prepare for the collection by building storage space, tearing down walls, adding new lighting and creating two interior galleries. The gallery space totals 5,700 square feet, of which 1,400 are dedicated to Barrick’s pre-Columbian art.
"We wanted to open everything up so things wouldn't be so sectioned off," says Barrick Museum director Aurora Giguet. "We wanted it to be able to flow. It feels more monumental now when you walk in."
Unlike at the old LVAM facility, which offered 7,000-square-feet of exhibit space, UNLV isn’t required to rotate in major exhibits. Donna Beam director Jerry Schefcik, who will oversee the LVAM collection, says he would like to see it as an active space where visitors can come various times of the year and see something new. A portion of LVAM's collection is hanging in the administrative offices at the Smith Center and is available to UNLV for exhibits. The collection includes work by former students, including Tim Bavington, Jame Hough, David Ryan, Shawn Hummel, James Goebel and Angela Kallus, and works by artists such as Sol Lewitt, Roy Lichtenstein, William T. Wiley, John Clem-Clarke and Matthew Radford.
Hopefully it will be a living organism for the community," he says. "Hopefully people will go see the work, learn, think about it and have a desire to see it again."