Las Vegas still needs an art museum—and we can have one if we don’t lose focus - Las Vegas Weekly

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Las Vegas still needs an art museum—and we can have one if we don’t lose focus

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Work by (left to right) Erik Beehn, David Ryan and Wendy Kveck will be included in the Art Museum at Symphony Park Print Portfolio, with proceeds benefiting the museum.

Last month, during our holiday breaks, the Weekly staff visited museums. One of us visited the Museum of Modern Art during a weekend visit to New York City; another spent a leisurely afternoon at the Getty in LA. I tried to visit LA’s Broad to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, but the line was hours long, so my girlfriend and I went to see the traveling Museum of Failure exhibit at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum instead. There was an hourlong line for that one, too, but we persevered, because there’s nothing sadder than failing to see a Museum of Failure.

Art museums are an essential part of a city’s character. Las Vegas doesn’t have a museum that could stand alongside a MoMA or a Broad, and we need one. Cynics like to hold up the early-2000s failure of the Venetian’s two Guggenheim spaces as evidence that Vegas can’t support an art museum, but could Vegas have supported an NHL team back then? There are 2 million people now living in this Valley, and they’ve proven that they don’t want to travel for the things LA can take for granted. It’s art museum time.

Luckily, plans for the Art Museum at Symphony Park—a fine art museum located adjacent to the Smith Center—are moving ahead, says Michele Quinn, an executive committee member of the museum’s all-volunteer board.

“We’ve been focusing on a collaboration/merger/undefined relationship with [Reno’s] Nevada Museum of Art, so we’re not doing a strong fundraising drive at the moment.” Quinn stresses that it’s important to define the full extent of that relationship, so that when six- and seven-figure fundraising continues, “there’s full clarity in the mission.”

Quinn sounds optimistic that the alliance will be solidified by March, after which it’ll be “full steam ahead”—hiring staff, working with the City to lock down the exact land parcel and raising public funds through sales of the Art Museum at Symphony Park Print Portfolio, a 10-lithograph boxed set featuring works by Justin Favela, JK Russ and others. A special gallery show might be held in February to show off the Portfolio, and a return of the Nevada Museum of Art collaboration show Tilting the Basin isn’t off the table.

“Everything is going absolutely, positively forward,” Quinn says. Vegas may yet evade a place in the Museum of Failure.

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