Las Vegas Is Getting a New Fine Art Museum with Help from Billionaire Elaine Wynn

The proposed museum is expected to open in 2028 with loaned works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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The proposed museum would open in 2028. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Las Vegas has for more than a decade been the largest American city without a standalone art museum. But with the help of a billionaire philanthropist and a renowned California arts institution, that may soon change.

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Earlier this month, the Las Vegas City Council approved a negotiating agreement for the Las Vegas Museum of Art, a proposed three-story art museum in the city’s downtown Symphony Park site.

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“We feel this is the missing piece of the puzzle in a long series of accomplishments we’ve made in Las Vegas, from the Smith Center, the Raiders stadium, Formula 1,” said Heather Harmon, a representative for the museum, at a city council meeting on Dec. 6. “The art museum is a great next step in our cultural chapter.”

The art museum in Las Vegas would be established in partnership with the foundation of Elaine Wynn, co-founder of the Wynn Casino Empire, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  The project has already received state support of $5 million in seed funding and is currently working on producing an economic impact and feasibility study.

The art museum hopes to fundraise $200 million in the next five years

Aiming to open by 2028, the Las Vegas Museum of Art is expected to measure between 60,000 and 90,000 square feet. It hopes to raise $150 million for project costs and an additional $50 million for the museum’s endowment, with plans to secure land by the end of the year and commence construction by 2026.

The approved agreement marks the first serious step Las Vegas has taken toward opening an art museum since its Las Vegas Art Museum closed in 2009 due to lack of funds. Among the top 30 largest cities in the U.S., it is the only one without a museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

Harmon will act as the upcoming institution’s executive director, according to documents submitted to the Las Vegas City Council, while Wynn and LACMA director Michael Govan are listed among its trustees. “This is a dream of his as well,” Wynn told council members of Govan’s involvement.

The Las Vegas Museum of Art will partner up with LACMA by loaning works from the museum and drawing from its professional expertise. According to Harmon, there are plans to have three exhibition spaces constantly rotating to ensure that the museum always has something new on view.

Museum representatives are also hoping that its institutional partners will help their proposal stand out from previous endeavors to establish a Las Vegas arts institution. “The biggest issue we had is we had no art—it’s very hard to have an art museum with no art,” said Wynn of the city’s past attempts.

Wynn, who has an estimated net worth of $2 billion, has long been an avid art collector and patron and currently serves as co-chair of LACMA. “We’re going to do our very best to expedite a lot of these steps,” she said. “I could not leave Las Vegas for that crap game in the sky without feeling that we’ve finished off our cultural center.”

Las Vegas Is Getting a New Fine Art Museum with Help from Billionaire Elaine Wynn