The Hard(wood) Facts About UNLV’S Barrick Museum

Photo by Ryan Olbrysh

Photo by Ryan Olbrysh

As you peruse the wares at UNLV’s Barrick Museum—where a new exhibit called Art for Art’s Sake opens on January 30—it’s somehow stirring to know that the very floor you’re walking on is itself a museum piece, preserved from the university’s infancy. The hardwood is a holdover from the days when the building served as the school’s gymnasium, back when UNLV was still known as Nevada Southern University.

The Rebels played basketball at the 2,000-seat NSU Gym, their first on-campus home, from the 1960-61 season until 1966, when they moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The floor still features the logo showing the Rebels’ original mascot, Beauregard, a wolf clad in gray Confederate attire. (The mascot was abandoned in the 1970s after students protested its racist connotations.)

The gym—the site of Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret’s famous dance scene in Viva Las Vegas—was also used for concerts, including a 1963 performance by Peter, Paul and Mary attended by 3,000 fans. Refurbished as the Barrick Museum in 1969, the gym is the second-oldest building on campus, after Archie C. Grant Hall.

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