Las Vegas Art Museum:
Catalyst for Commercial & Residential Development
Please tell us about this exciting project that is in the works.
The Nevada Museum of Art, Las Vegas will open its doors within the next five to seven years in Symphony Park. At the moment, we’re focused on fundraising and the architectural search and selection process. Working in tandem with our CEO and key Trustees, we have a committee of Las Vegas community leaders helping us spearhead the project. An architect will be selected and announced by early-2020 and design will begin immediately following. We’re projecting construction to be over a three-year period.
"From an economic perspective, the art/luxury travel industry
is valued at $17 billion in the United States."
Why do you feel that the time is right for this project in Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is among the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the United States and the only without an accredited art museum. Most cities of our size have several art institutions. With the support of the City of Las Vegas, the Nevada Museum of Art’s expansion into Las Vegas helps strengthen the maturation of our beloved city.
From a construction perspective, the timing for breaking ground will be right, since other massive projects, like the football stadium, will be wrapping up. It will help to continue the momentum of the construction boom that we’re currently experiencing in the valley.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
From an economic perspective, the art/luxury travel industry is valued at $17 billion in the United States. For every dollar the luxury traveler spends in the museum, they spend double that amount in the community. This includes hotels, restaurants, and shows. We are missing this market because we don’t have an art museum of a global scale in Southern Nevada. This will be a great compliment to our sports and convention industries in addition to greatly enhancing the quality of life for our residents.
What is going to set this museum apart from museums in other cities?
For starters, we’re going to get feedback from the community as to what are the priorities are in order to be a museum that truly serves its residents. We’re not going to copy other designs, but rather produce a structure that is indicative of our city and its inhabitants. We want the building to look and feel as though it belongs here and ensure that there are considerations taken for the environment. We must create community and social spaces. Our specialty in Las Vegas is hospitality, so we need to think about how we draw upon that strength with the design and layout of this museum.
What benefits do you see the Museum of Art bringing to the community?
The benefits are immeasurable: improving quality of life, developing a creative workforce, creating jobs, and making Las Vegas a desirable place to live. From an economic perspective, it brings an anchor for future art-based infrastructure, such as studio spaces, galleries, and shops. The Museum will help to foster career development, by allowing UNLV art graduates to work there and help them expand their skill set, rather than having no choice but to leave the region or find employment in other sectors. The Museum, in tandem with other cultural partners, can create an ecosystem that will ultimately help generate an art economy in the city.
"Historically, artists have had an enormous impact on gentrification."
Do we suffer from an artistic “brain drain” in Las Vegas?
Las Vegas actively generates culture and content, however we need to make it sustainable and create an infrastructure that supports development. I’m one of many creatives in the valley that left home after graduating from UNLV because work in my field of art history was unavailable at that time. The Museum has an opportunity to be a beacon of creative growth for artists, collectors, developers, patrons, etc.
What impact do art communities have on cities?
Historically, artists have had an enormous impact on gentrification. Often, artists will go where they can afford to live and work, which are not the most desirable or developed neighborhoods. Forty or fifty years ago, these were neighborhoods like Tribeca or SoHo in New York, which had abandoned industrial spaces, empty lots, and buildings that were in disrepair. Artists could afford these spaces, which gave them the liberty to be creative. Within ten to fifteen years, many of these neighborhoods would flourish, often pricing the very artists that brought them back to glory out of the market. Downtown Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Berlin are other recent examples of areas that have undergone this renaissance.
Downtown Los Angeles Arts District
Venice Beach in Los Angeles had a reputation for gang violence just decades ago and today, it’s a mix of multi-million dollar homes, young families, and $10 coffees. It was the presence of the art community that turned that neighborhood into the cultural epicenter that it is today. The same thing happened in the Toy District, Glendale, and now West Adams, and so on.
Berlin came to prominence after the fall of the Wall, when Dusseldorf and Cologne became too expensive for artists. The growth of the art community and the galleries that followed led to huge economic development for a once depressed city.
What kind of spaces do artists generally look for?
Architecturally, they can be abandoned, industrial neighborhoods with large spaces that have been resurrected. Economically, they are neighborhoods that are affordable to work in without causing extreme financial pressure.
Because we tend to lack that type of space here in Las Vegas, where do artists go to live and work?
One of the biggest challenges for artists here in Las Vegas is in finding affordable studio space. I haven’t quite figured out why this is, but it’s something that we should seriously contemplate and work towards finding viable solutions. We want artists to stay here in Las Vegas.
"There is no end to the ways in which developers can help the art community,
especially in the early stages of this initiative."
What can developers do to support the proliferation of the art community?
Going back to my examples of other cities, creating an art community is commonly organic and involves repurposing existing, older buildings. That’s a more difficult feat in such a young city, so developers could help encourage the growth of this community through the inclusion of living space or gallery space in a mixed-use facility. It’s a great way of supporting the arts and artists. There is no end to the ways in which developers can help the art community, especially in the early stages of this initiative. Developers can also support artists in acquiring their work or commissioning works for projects. Engaging artists and financially supporting them as patrons is critical.
Artist Loft in New York City
How can the community get involved in supporting the development of this project?