The Las Vegas Sun follows up its story on the closing of the Las Vegas Art Museum with a look at why the institution failed. President Patrick Duffy gives his version:
Duffy says the Las Vegas Art Museum, in a last-minute effort, tried forming partnerships with other institutions, including Opportunity Village. The board also considered hanging the permanent collection at the museum, which operates out of a library on West Sahara Avenue. The museum owns about 170 works, including pieces from the “Las Vegas Diaspora” exhibit and 50 from the Herb and Dorothy Vogel collection, held in storage. Duffy says displaying the permanent collection would have cost $500,000 annually and been poorly curated.
And the alternative? “We were not going to go back to running a museum with third-rate posters, like it was 10 years ago,” Duffy says. “You have to give people a reason to come.”
Better to just fold, the board decided.
Ellen Grossman, a former Las Vegas Art Museum staff member, says the museum may have tried too hard to grow too fast.
Board and staff members wanted to build a facility at a more central site to encourage support and attendance, but there were more immediate issues. Professional staff were hired and the payroll ballooned from $232,602 to $593,944 from 2006 to 2007, at a time when revenue remained stagnant at $1.6 million, according to federal tax statements.
Former Director Libby Lumpkin was part of the go-fast crowd:
Lumpkin wanted to quicken the process with a cutting-edge contemporary art museum at a location where it could better tap the high-end tourist trade.
“It seemed like a no-brainer,” Lumpkin says. “Las Vegas is a place artists love to come to because of the visual spectacle of the Strip. Hotels are putting recording studios in. This place could be alive with creativity.” [ . . . ]
Las Vegas Art Museum board and staff members believe the museum would have survived had it not been for the disastrous economy.
Surprisingly, though, Reno seems to be better equipped to support an art museum than Las Vegas, even if the subject matter is more in tune with the city:
The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, the state’s oldest cultural institution, is booming, with locals providing 70 percent of its gate and a membership seven times that of Las Vegas’ art museum, despite the region’s smaller population.
Its four-level, 55,000-square-foot building opened in 2003 and houses 1,900 works, including modern art, contemporary art and landscape photos of the American West. It recently launched its Center for Art and Environment.
In the Valley, A Tepid Market for the Arts (Las Vegas Sun)