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Making Liberace proud

A small but vocal group did its best to make sure the Liberace Museum doesn’t go quietly

Image
Local performer Larry Edwards brought his own cutout Liberace to a protest against the closing of the Liberace Museum in front of the museum in Las Vegas Wednesday, September 22, 2010.
Photo: Leila Navidi

It wasn’t exactly Berkeley in the ’60s. There was definitely a protest going on, but the crowd—dotted by sequined hats and ostrich feathers, with some using walkers and others holding signs that read, “Where’s the money?” and “Hit the road, Jack,” referring to Liberace Museum President Jack Rappaport—was angry at a different type of governing body.

Liberace Museum Closure Protest

They believed the Liberace Museum and Foundation board had gone too far when it announced the museum’s closure. So these longtime critics got away from their blogs and comments on local media sites and gathered at the museum.

It may have been a small group—the largest it got was 40 people—but it refused to let the museum die quietly, a response vastly different from that of the closing of Las Vegas Art Museum in February last year. “The art museum did it in a dignified way. This is not dignified,” says Carole Fishman, a former Liberace Museum employee.

Behind her, three colorfully dressed women, bouncing on their knees, chanted “Save our museum.” A protestor carried an “IRS-Audit this me$$” sign, and John Hosier, owner of the neighboring Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens Restaurant, passed out free appetizer cards. He, too, had had enough after a run-in with Rappaport, who he says demanded that Hosier return the piano the restaurant’s previous owners bought from the museum in 1988.

Details

Liberace Museum
1775 E. Tropicana Ave.
798-5595

Officials deny claims of mismanagement. But the fact that nobody on the board or staff in recent years had any experience (admittedly) running a museum and foundation with more than $15 million in net assets could be construed as a form of mismanagement. There were no new exhibits to draw return visitors. Its president, a longtime friend of the board chair, is a Realtor, and its previous president was a former financial manager, who had worked at UNLV, where the board chair is dean of the College of Fine Arts.

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