The Las Vegas Art Museum is coming back, in a brand-new space. It’s partnering with UNLV’s College of Fine Arts and is planning on displaying its permanent collection at the Barrick Museum on campus. The artwork has been in storage since February 2009, when the LVAM closed because of lack of funding.
“We really wanted to make certain this partnership with UNLV was the right one for us,” says LVAM board president Patrick Duffy, who has been in meetings about the museum’s return for at least two years. “The more we embraced this natural combination of artwork, combined with the university, it was undeniable that it made perfect sense.” UNLV art curator Jerry Schefcik is especially excited since the bulk of LVAM’s collection contains pieces by UNLV alumni, including Tim Bavington, David Ryan, Wayne Littlejohn and Angela Kallus. “This opens up all kinds of doors and possibilities for Las Vegas in visual arts,” Schefcik says. “We needed an entity to display local works that both highlight and document what happens here. Having that here on campus will be a treasure.”
“When people think about art, there is this air of elitism,” Duffy says. “I feel the most important aspect of this collection being open to the public is that these pieces are accessible and inclusive to everyone, instead of exclusive.” Michele Quinn, principal of MCQ Fine Art, is hopeful for this transition. While it’d be ideal for the museum to have its own facility, she thinks this arrangement is the best possible Plan B. “It’s great that the Las Vegas arts community will have a prominent presence again,” she says. “I can’t think of a more appropriate, nonprofit venue, that is more recognizable than UNLV. I’m glad the museum is trying to regain strength and be visible in the community once again.”
When the Barrick Museum facility is ready to house the artwork (it’s currently being remodeled for this change), there will be a “teaser” exhibition, tentatively scheduled for May. The entire collection will be on display later this year.