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April 21, 2014

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The art of the deal: LVAM, UNLV partner to revive dormant museum collection

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Ryan Olbrysh

One last look: The LVAM, right before it closed.

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The lobby of the Las Vegas Art Museum, 9600 West Sahara Ave., is empty Tuesday, March 10, 2009. The museum was forced to close when it couldn't raise enough money in the economic downturn.

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Exhibits are boxed up Tuesday in the main gallery of the Las Vegas Art Museum, at 9600 West Sahara Ave. Location was one of the things working against it, Clark County Museum Administrator Mark Hall-Patton says, as tourists mostly prefer the Strip's attractions to cultural institutions.

For nearly three years, the Las Vegas Art Museum collection has been looking for a good place to hang.

The long-anticipated announcement today that LVAM is teaming with the UNLV College of Fine Arts to exhibit the LVAM collection this year is a relief to any Las Vegan concerned that the museum’s closing undercut the city’s attempts to enhance its cultural image. Located on West Sahara Avenue, west of Village Square and more than 8 miles from the Strip, LVAM's former home closed on Feb. 28, 2009. A soft economy and little community support led to ceasing of operations.

By the time the decision to closed the museum was rendered by LVAM officials, 1,000 donors in a city of nearly 2 million were supporting an institution that was started as an art league in 1950. LVAM grew into a fully realized art museum in 1974.

In its next phase, the LVAM collection is to be displayed across the UNLV campus and in the community, though no other specific sites or dates have been announced.

In a news release issued this morning, LVAM Board of Directors President Patrick Duffy said, “We promised in our closing dialogue that we would at some point open our doors again and share with the community the gift that is the LVAM." Duffy said the partnership with UNLV “offers a partnership for growth, community involvement and collaboration with Las Vegas’ like-minded fine art organizations.”

UNLV art curator Jerry Schefcik will host a “teaser” exhibition of the LVAM collection this spring, likely in May, with a larger grand opening set for the winter of this year through the early spring of 2013.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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