Las Vegas, the Nevada city known primarily for its casinos and nightlife, may finally get the art museum it has long lacked.
On December 6, the city of Las Vegas said that its council had officially approved an agreement that could lay the groundwork for a museum in the city, to be located in Symphony Park, in the heart of the city’s Downtown district. Elaine Wynn, who appears on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, is attached to the project as a partner, along with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The city council’s approved agreement was negotiated with a developer who now has a six-month period to devise an official plan for the museum. That means the institution is not set in stone yet, but it is closer than it ever has been before to becoming a reality.
In its current form, the museum is projected to cost $150 million and is likely to span 60,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet. It is slated to open in 2028.
Through its partnership with LACMA, the Las Vegas Museum of Art could potentially borrow works from that institution for its shows and presentations.
As it currently stands, Las Vegas is the largest American city without an art institution that is a member of the American Alliance of Museums. Heather Harmon, a former deputy director of the Nevada Museum of Art who is acting as a representative for the project, called the new planned institution a “great next step in our cultural chapter” during the city council meeting.
In 2019, there were plans to build a Las Vegas museum as a branch of the Nevada Museum of Art. Harmon had been hired in 2019 to lead that project, which came with a $250 million price tag and an area of around 125,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet. A spokesperson said for the Nevada Museum of Art told ARTnews that this forthcoming Las Vegas Museum of Art has no affiliation with the institution.
Technically, this is not the first art museum to open in Las Vegas. There was already once an institution known as the Las Vegas Museum of Art that opened in 1997, but it closed just 12 years later, having run out of funding.
If this Las Vegas Museum of Art does succeed in opening, it could prove itself a significant addition to the city.
“The move could see America’s most notorious city join Des Moines, Omaha, Fort Worth, and other midsize cities in having a boundary-pushing art museum,” Christina Binkley wrote in a 2019 profile of the efforts to build the museum for ARTnews. “It would follow an era of hope that fizzled even as casinos hosted megawatt art collections from the Guggenheim and the Smithsonian to draw tourists to the Las Vegas Strip.”
Correction, 12/21/23, 12:15 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that the planned Las Vegas Museum of Art was a branch of the Nevada Museum of Art. A spokesperson for the latter institution clarified that there is no relation between the two.