Breaking Boundaries: LACMA’s Bold Move to Establish a Satellite Museum in Las Vegas (News)

For years, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has toyed with expanding its reach beyond its iconic Wilshire Boulevard location. Los Angeles’s sprawling nature, coupled with the desire to make art more accessible, has fueled discussions about satellite galleries in various neighborhoods. However, despite these discussions, tangible progress has remained elusive.

In a surprising turn of events, news broke in late December of plans for LACMA’s first satellite museum. But here’s the twist: it won’t be in Southern California. Instead, LACMA is setting its sights on Las Vegas, a city known more for its neon lights and entertainment than its art scene.

The decision to establish a satellite museum in Las Vegas has raised eyebrows and sparked debate. Critics argue that such a move dilutes the essence of a global art institution and questions the wisdom of venturing into uncharted territory. Yet, for LACMA, it’s part of a larger strategy that includes the controversial decision to downsize its permanent collection gallery space on Wilshire Boulevard.

The new satellite museum, slated to open in 2028, will operate more like a kunsthalle—a facility dedicated to temporary exhibitions—than a traditional museum with its collection. Instead of housing its artworks, the Las Vegas Museum of Art will rely on loans from LACMA, rotating exhibitions to showcase different facets of the museum’s collection.

However, this arrangement comes with its own set of challenges. LACMA risks depriving its local audience of access to significant pieces from its permanent collection by lending artworks to Las Vegas. Alternatively, Las Vegas could end up with a selection of second-tier artworks overshadowed by LACMA’s more prized possessions.

Moreover, managing a satellite museum hundreds of miles away presents logistical hurdles. While LACMA may argue that it’s expanding access to art, critics question the efficacy of such a remote outpost, mainly when there are already successful local initiatives closer to home.

Despite these concerns, LACMA remains undeterred. With billionaire backers and a dedicated team, the Las Vegas project is forging ahead, promising a unique cultural experience in the heart of Sin City.

LACMA’s gamble on Las Vegas may be a stroke of genius—or a cautionary tale as the boundaries between art and entertainment blur blur. Only time will tell whether this bold move pays off, but one thing is sure: the art world will watch closely as LACMA takes its first steps into uncharted territory.

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The press release and the photographs are courtesy of the gallery and the artists.

  1. LACMA’s Satellite Museum in Las Vegas IDEA

    I’m against it because my quite modest retired person income, does not feel secure enough to spread to Las Vegas. I would not have paid for this year’s membership had it cost any more. I don’t go out to eat, and I don’t spend the time and money, or risk illness more, by buying concert and theater tickets in LA. I refuse to pay any higher price for this dual LACMA membership. LACMA is 25 miles from my residence; I’ve no reason to visit Las Vegas.

    I was a New Yorker; I used public transportation all the time, attended museums and some concerts and theater when I was young. The MMA was like home. But I was forced to retire early from Los Angeles public high school teaching and a decent income. Social Security money I did earn is halved because of that small pension from merely 23 years. I’ve given enough to charities which have righteous purposes and to my necessities. I ought not to pay for LACMA’s Director, Michael Govan, to extend this County’s cultural empire beyond our state’s borders.

    Let Mr. Govan and people who back the idea of a satellite art museum in another state use especially-designated money if they can afford his plan without taxing Los Angeles County or City or residential members further, let them. Let me have my museum wholly. I can’t afford to help.

    Faye Melton, art historian and English teacher

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