Entries in museum (4)

Preservation Spotlight: Dennis McBride

Today's Preservation Spotlight is on Dennis McBride, Executive Director of the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas and longtime Las Vegas Valley historian.

I've been good friends with Dennis since we first met over ten years ago. He was one of the main inspirations behind my getting interested in preserving 20th Century Las Vegas history.  His oral histories with the men who worked on the building of Boulder/Hoover Dam and the women who helped build Boulder City into more than just a Federal reservation were key to inspiring me.  His pioneering work at the Boulder Dam Museum as well as his work in chronicling the history of the Gay and Lesbian movement in the Las Vegas Valley serve as inspirations to us all.

Today, Dennis helps preserve Las Vegas history at the State Museum and has a deep interest in the Photography collection there. Just a few years ago, he cataloged the J. Florian Mitchell collection that includes some wonderful images of mid-century modern Las Vegas.

We sat down with Dennis and talked about preservation and history in Las Vegas:

CLV Blog: How did you become interested in preserving Southern Nevada history?

McBride:   Saving things, preserving things, collecting and organizing things is a significant part of my nature. I’ve been doing it since I was a child....

Read the rest of the interview at ClassicLasVegasBlog.com

More on the Liberace Museum Protest

From Jeffery White event organizer...

Dear Friends of the Liberace Foundation and Museum:


I am writing this to you, asking for your time and support for a worthy cause. We will be staging a Protest demonstration on Wednesday September 22nd from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.  This demonstration will be a peaceful protest to keep the Liberace Museum Open.  We will be marching on the sidewalks surrounding the Liberace Museum.  This will also help to shine a spotlight on those responsible for its demise.


It is believed that the Liberace Museum has been grossly mismanaged by the past two Museum Presidents under the current watch of the Liberace Foundation Board President Dean, Jeffrey Koep of UNLV. 


This Non-Profit organization like any other should be held accountable for any and all mismanagement.  Non-Profit Boards have a fiduciary responsibility to the Public, especially when a large monetary trust is concerned. 


Las Vegas has been a city that all too often bulldozes its history.  Then we complain that our culture is non-existent.  We have said good-bye to the Las Vegas Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum.  The Liberace Museum is a Part of the Las Vegas Culture, as well as Liberace himself being a part of the Las Vegas Cultural fabric.  Entertainment has been synonymous with our colorful past.  Can we afford to let go of yet another iconic part of Las Vegas history? 


Now is the time to show your support and save a legacy that was given to the people of Las Vegas. Given the right leadership, this can be saved. 


Please do your part and join us in attending this peaceful demonstration to help prevent yet another Museum loss.  Let’s focus on the FUTURE so that the generations to come can also enjoy Mr. Showmanship’s legacy.


In closing….I would like to leave you with the closing remarks from Liberace’s book. “The Wonderful Private World of Liberace”


“What lies ahead should be determined by what we’ve missed in the past.  The present should be spent realizing all of our unfulfilled dreams and ambitions…My attitude is that nothing is impossible – it just takes a little longer.  Making up for lost time is the best motivation of all in planning for the future”



I’ll Be Seeing You!  (On Wednesday)


Jeffrey White

Protest Organizer

Liberace Fans to Protest the Closing of the Museum

Fans of the Liberace Museum are outraged at the closing of the Museum (see our post below).  According to our pal, Johnny Katz at the Las Vegas Sun, a protest is planned for Wednesday morning at 11:30 am in front of the museum.

Jeffrey White, the event organizer, is calling for the ouster of Liberace Foundation Chairman, Jeffrey Koep and Foundation President Jack Rappaport.  Rappaport's continuing role is unknown but he thinks he may be asked to handle the choosing of items for a possible national tour.  He is also trying to find a new home for the Museum on the Strip.

According to Katz, Koep said meager visitation numbers at the museum (from a high of 450,000 at its peak to around 30,000 last year) and an absence of revenue from businesses in the strip-mall plaza owned by the foundation were the reasons the distinctly Las Vegas attraction is closing.

Koep said the museum had for years been financially sustained by the endowment fund set up to award scholarships, and it had reached the point where the museum had to close to preserve that fund, he said. The Liberace Foundation had once awarded $500,000 annually to gifted students; last year that number fell to $65,000.

The organized outcry likely won't be a massive effort. A turnout of between 75 and 100 is expected. But White, quoting from legendary cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, said the group would not be deterred:

"A small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

For more on the Museum prospects and a film on the life of Lee:


Liberace Museum Closes Their Doors

Well, it seems it has been headed towards this for awhile.  But, now it is official.  The Liberace Museum has closed its doors citing "declining interest".

Jeffrey Koep, the chairman of the Liberace Foundation, cites the declining interest in Liberace himself as part of the problem.

He also cites the fact that as Liberace's fans have gotten grayer and older, new fans have not necessarily taken their place.

Unlike Elvis and the Rat Pack, both of whom were Las Vegas legends at the same time Lee was wowing crowds in the 1950s and 1960s, Liberace is not necessarily remembered as well as the others in today's media saturated times.

Both Elvis and Sinatra have estates, controlled by family, that make them powerhouses to be reckoned with and keep their departed loved ones in the eye of the public.  Liberace did not have that.  Nor did he have recording legacy that is kept alive through the licensing of his music.

His legacy seems to be his flair of showmanship whose roots flow to Lady Gaga and other modern singers.

A biopic, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Michael Douglas has been talked about but with Douglas battling stage 4 cancer, it's future is uncertain.

The museum opened in 1979 with 5,000 square feet and by 1988 had grown to 11,000.  In its heyday, the Museum was a big hit and the most visited museum in town.

The Foundation says that profits have been declining for 12 years and cites its off-Strip locale as part of the problem.

They hope to continue with traveling exhibits but for now it's "Goodnight, Irene" for the Liberace Museum.

We are sorry to see it go.