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Marjorie Barrick Museum Has New Look and New Direction

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The Las Vegas Art Museum partners with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to form a cultural identity focused on the arts in Las Vegas.

The Marjorie Barrick Museum opened in 1969 across the street from UNLV as an extension of the Desert Research Institute. The museum made the move to campus in the early 1970s.

The museum recently received a new look through a renovation project but it still has its original flooring and mascot sign.

Previously the Barrick Museum was part of a funding pool, called Statewide Programs, run through the UNLV Office of Vice President for Research.

In 2011 faculty at the museum received some concerning news, the Vice President for Research had to make some budget cuts which meant losing their entire budget, which equates to approximately $267,000 annually.

Aurore Giguet, the Barrick Museum director, immediately notified the Office of the Vice President for Research that she would be reaching out to other deans within UNLV in hopes of finding a new home for the museum.

Around the same time the College of Fine Arts received the Las Vegas Art Museum collection to store and eventually exhibit, but found that the collection was too extensive for the space they had available.

The Marjorie Barrick Museum was looking for a new home and the College of Fine Arts was looking for a space large enough to accommodate the LVAM collection.

According to Dean Jeffrey Koep of the Fine Arts College, the partnership seemed natural.“The addition of the Barrick is a tremendous boon for our college and the Department of Art. It provides increased opportunities for our students to exhibit and it allows us to offer exhibits which we, in the past, would have been unable to place in any of our galleries,” said Koep.  “It provides an excellent home to the Las Vegas Art Museum Collection and allows the exhibition of that collection to not only UNLV students but all residents of Southern Nevada.”

The Barrick moved from the Harry Reid Center to the College of Fine Arts, underwent an extensive renovation and is now home to the LVAM art collection.

The Barrick is now operating from three different sources of funding. Funds recently received from the provost, reserve money and their foundation account with hopes of obtaining state money again in the future.

“We’ve been around for 40 years [and] it’s been a lasting institution in Las Vegas, we’ve just never really had a large budget or a large staff so we’ve just sort of been this hidden little jewel,” Giguet said.

The idea for this partnership began in a discussion between Patrick Duffy, LVAM board president and Nancy Strouse, executive director for the UNLV Foundation.

Duffy and the LVAM board received inquiries from other out-of-state institutions regarding the collection, but Duffy felt strongly that it should stay in the state.

“The arts in Las Vegas have had their bruises, black eyes and bloody noses, and for me and the board to direct the collection to an out of state institution sends the wrong message about the arts in totality for Las Vegas,” Duffy said.

The Las Vegas Art Museum was a cherished institution among community members, many of which were saddened when it closed its doors due to budgetary concerns.

“I’m happy for LVAM, if it’s a better location, then everyone wins,” said Jon Tilley, young people’s librarian at the Sahara West Library. “I am all about displaying the arts in any way possible.”

A decrease in memberships and donations was the main reason for the closure in 2009 and the collection has remained dormant ever since.

The Las Vegas Art Museum began as The Las Vegas Art League in the 1950s and they acquired their first piece of artwork in 1956 titled “Bahianas” by Mary Cady.

They became the Las Vegas Art Museum in 1974 and in 1997 the collection was moved to the Sahara West library.

After closing in 2009, the collection was placed in storage at Sahara West Library and LVAM board members were just waiting for the perfect opportunity to reopen.

At the end of 2011, UNLV Galleries Director Jerry Schefcik, Dean Jeff Koep and Nancy Strouse went to look at the LVAM collection at the Sahara West Library. Soon after plans to move the collection to campus began. 

The first step was initiating the renovation project. The Barrick closed their doors for renovations on January 9, 2012. The museum was completely demolished with only the four outer walls still standing at one point during the process.

In August the LVAM collection was moved to campus and final preparations were made for its much anticipated debut.

The museum was reopened to the public on September 19, showcasing a new look as well as a new collection of art.

According to the Barrick’s website, both parties were excited about this partnership and felt it would be beneficial to UNLV as well as the community.

“It took two great institutions to recognize the value of collaboration and inclusiveness, and in that, its value to the Las Vegas community and Southern Nevada,” said Patrick Duffy, LVAM board president.

Funds for the renovation were awarded, on a one-time basis, to the Barrick by the president and provost of UNLV.

“Into the Light” was the opening exhibit and served as an overall look at the eclectic collection of pieces now housed in the Barrick Museum.

LVAM Curator and UNLV Galleries Director Jerry Schefcik hopes to put together an exhibit focused on local artists sometime in the near future.

“It’s about us, in some sense you can call them mirrors we look at the art to see ourselves who we are and what we’re doing and we all like to look in mirrors,” Schefcik said.

The Barrick does not have enough room to display every piece of artwork belonging to the Las Vegas Art Museum. Instead the museum plans to display art on a rotating basis giving regulars a chance to see something new every time they visit.

“I am really excited for the Barrick and how it can attract people and artists from the community to the university. We hold lectures in our auditorium, have story time for kids, and rent out the exhibition hall for events. There is always something to do here,” said Alisha Kerlin, collections and office manager for the Barrick Museum.

The extensive collection includes paintings as well as wall- mounted and free-standing sculptures.

The museum now features new exhibits, events, a lecture series as well as a beautiful xeriscape garden just outside, the museum also hosts field trips.

“It’s an evolution, we are not just the Barrick Museum with occasional art shows, we are the Las Vegas Art Museum now,” Giguet said.

For more information, visit the Barrick Museum website.

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