Posts Tagged ‘las vegas art museum’

Art, Leaving Las Vegas

March 2, 2009

 Further evidence of the depth of the economic crunch on art institutions is accumulating.  Most recently, the Las Vegas Art Museum has closed its doors, effective as of February 28th.  The announcement was apparently made on relatively short notice.   The museum  is located on West Sahara Avenue in a building that it shares with a public library.  Since the quiet closing of the Guggenheim’s Hermitage Venetian venue last May, LVAM was one of the few art venues available to local residents.

 LVAM has had a somewhat tumultuous history after transforming itself from a local art league into an art museum in 1974.  The museum took a decided turn towards accessibility and national status under the direction of Marianne Lorenz in the early part of the decade and became a Smithsonian affiliate.  At that time LVAM was emerging as a fresh venue for national contemporary art.  After an apparent inner institutional disagreement about the museum’s mission, and Ms. Lorenz’ departure, the museum’s exhibition policy became one that returned to focus solely on local area artists.  Public concern arose about the possibility of the museum resuming its former status as a local art guild and thereby removing it from national exposure.   In the last year or so there appears to have been some degree of expansion in the approach to exhibitions but, LVAM’s Smithsonian status was apparently discontinued.

 Las Vegas Art Museum, 2001The museum, according to reports, does not rely on any government funding, but solely on private donations.  A 2003 article in Las Vegas Weekly indicated that the museum was in good financial condition at that time.  The recent closing has been described as “temporary” and there is some hope that it will reopen when–and if–funding conditions improve.   It is unclear if the museum will be able to remain in its present location during this period. 

 LVAM has not publicly announced any plans to deaccession  artwork held in museum’s collections.  However, according to Las Vegas Weekly, recently departed LVAM Director Libby Lumpkin said, “The gift of artworks from the National Gallery in Washington, DC, will likely be transferred to the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.  The museum has contemporary artwork in its collection as well, some of which were acquired through donation.  The present and future status of those works is unclear.   

 The closing of LVAM and its reliance on certain types of private funding illustrates the problems that presently face mid-level art institutions.  It is apparent that LVAM and other small museums may not have adequate resources to mitigate a temporary drop in financial donations, either due to a necessarily short term approach to management, or because of the lack of more stable sources such as trusts or endowments.  Regardless, this situation underscores the necessity of a consistent source of funding for such institutions, whether that may be NEA or other government based support.  With an apparent lack of funding on the local level as well, these institutions are increasingly vulnerable. 

 In related news, the Allentown Art Museum has reduced its hours in response to its own financial condition.  The museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays until future notice.


Las Vegas Sun, February 20th. 

Las Vegas Weekly, February 20, 2009

Las Vegas Weekly (2003)  

Year 2000 Report,

Las Vegas Sun, Vegas, Say Goodbye to the Guggenheim


Allentown Art Museum