As We See It

Life after the Liberace Museum

The collection will continue to please generations on tour

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Exhibits from the former Liberace Museum will tour soon.
Photo: Mona Shield Payne

Well, the party’s over. The guests have left. The food’s put away, the pianos are silent and the lights have been dimmed. So now what? It’d be a shame to leave eight outlandish cars, 17 pianos and more than 200 costume and costume parts without an audience. Then there are the antiques and photographs—vestiges of a pioneering forefather in a city that’s already erased most of itself.

The Liberace Foundation board of directors promises not to allow pillaging of the now-closed museum, but after years of floundering, it’s about to learn what actually is and isn’t there. A curatorial manager is being hired to inventory the collection, see that everything is accounted for and prepare it for tour. We all know that the wildly ornate 18th century Louis XV-style desk, purchased by Liberace from a museum in Florida, was sold off to a buyer who sauntered into the museum one day with deep pockets, but the pianos have been tended to regularly and the elaborate costumes have been on display. Board Chairman Jeff Koep says the Exhibits Development Group tour of the Liberace collection should begin in the spring, which means the packing will commence. But that doesn’t mean the collection is off-limits to locals and local venues. Recently appointed board member Brian “Paco” Alvarez, who was collections manager at the museum from 2000-’03, says the Liberace Museum will be loaning artifacts upon request; in fact, there has already been interest.

“We are completely open to that,” Alvarez says, “with preservation, of course, in mind.”

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