With more travelers from all over the world starting to visit Las Vegas again, most tourists only have one thing on their minds. They are heading to the casino resorts to get their fix of slot machines, poker, and enjoying the late-night clubs the city has become so famous for over the years.
Of course, these reasons for visiting Las Vegas are worthwhile. After all, it is the Entertainment Capital of the World.
However, what surprises a lot of tourists is the fact Vegas actually has a thriving art scene that rivals almost every other city in America. So while Sin City isn’t home to a signature museum or gallery like The Art Institute of Chicago, The Getty in Los Angeles, or a number of standout places in the country, it does have an eclectic mix of art venues (the Neon Museum Boneyard pictured) packed with extraordinary works.
The fun of this somewhat secret Vegas art scene is really in exploring as much of it as you can manage. So rather than reviewing a given piece, artist, or collection, we have written this piece to offer a few words on where you can find (and in many cases buy) some of the best art in the city.
Centaur Art Gallery
The Centaur Art Gallery is famous for being the oldest gallery in Vegas, and is also unique in that it is not attached to a major resort or any other attraction. It is simply a standalone gallery on Dean Martin Drive (though it is more or less behind two major resorts in The Bellagio and The Cosmopolitan). As a venue, the Centaur Art Gallery is nothing particularly extraordinary to look at. But the collection here is exceptional, consisting of paintings, sculpture, and even furniture that will delight art aficionados.
Browsing through the works at the Centaur, you will find a blend of centuries-old paintings and contributions from modern artists. The real gems though are original works by the likes of Picasso and Rembrandt.
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
The Bellagio is among the most famous resort properties in Las Vegas. Many will recognize it from the 2001 casino heist movie Ocean’s 11, while some could pick the Bellagio out in an instant because of its legendary fountain display.
Additionally, it has one of the best poker rooms in the city (alongside the ARIA and the Wynn). The Bellagio poker room offers No Limit Texas Hold’em games to its patrons – it’s one of the most popular varieties of poker. Not to mention, the No Limit variety is more exciting, because players can raise the stakes and games are generally more competitive.
These are all reasonable highlights and associations, but the Bellagio Gallery Of Fine Art deserves its due as well. It is unfortunately difficult to single out particular artists or works you might see visiting this gallery because collections and displays tend to rotate through. However, the gallery is well respected at this point and has seen displays of original pieces from old masters and more modern visionaries (such as Andy Warhol) alike. It’s a must-stop spot for any art enthusiast visiting Sin City.
Park West Gallery
Park West Gallery is located in Caesars Palace, which is another iconic casino resort that many will recognize for other reasons — not least of which is its general presentation as a sort of mock Roman palace. It is a gaudy place, though it is worth noting that some of its art, even in the casino’s public spaces, are pleasant to look at. Much of it imitates the work of the Italian masters, though you will find more direct copies at The Venetian (Vegas’s other Italian- themed resort).
Beyond the imitation art however, Caesars now hosts this fine gallery, where wonderful work has come and gone over the years. In addition to many modern artists, the likes of Picasso, Renoir, Dürer, and Matisse have had their work displayed at Park West.
There is also the Metropolitan Gallery, which is located farther away from the main resort area known as the Strip. This gallery is situated instead at Fremont Street, which is a kind of downtown district increasingly recognized as a fun (and cheap) alternative for travelers who want to experience some fun away from the Strip.
As for the gallery itself, it’s a clean and quiet place that feels a little bit more like a traditional museum once you’re inside. And while the collection is not stagnant, it is always interesting. The Metropolitan Gallery has hosted several showcases featuring contemporary masters, collections of older paintings, sculpture exhibitions revolving around specific materials, and even digital works. It is at once the most traditional and innovative of Vegas galleries.
Amidst all of these venues, you really can get your fill of world-class art during a visit to Vegas. Now, you can enjoy and get educated on your next trip to Sin City!