When thinking about casinos, art galleries are not the first thing to spring to mind. So it may come as a surprise to learn that many casinos are responsible for displaying some of the most important pieces of classic and modern art in the world.
The collection of art pieces to adorn and beautify casino premises is nothing new, but more recently there has been a shift towards curating full permanent collections and exhibitions to rival those found in the best museums.
Many of these collections attract visitors from far and wide. For the casino, its a great piece of marketing and a way to get more people through the doors. Once there, most visitors will at least venture to the casino floor to try some games. For those who came for the casino, the art adds a sophisticated and cultural extra dimension. Here, in no particular order, are some of the best casino art collections to be found in Las Vegas and beyond.
Modern Art at Palms Casino Resort
After a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, Palms has reinvented itself as one of the coolest venues on the planet and its all thanks to the art. The theme here is decidedly contemporary, with pieces from Jean-Michel Basquiat
, Richard Prince and Andy Warhol alongside several street artists in the Banksy mold.
Parts of the resort are a collaboration with Damien Hirst, one of the most influential artists of the past three decades. As well as providing several original pieces, Hirst designed many signature details of the hotel such as the bar coasters. He also created what is rumored to be the worlds most expensive hotel room. At $100,000 per night, the Empathy Suite is akin to staying inside a Hirst artwork.
Classic and Contemporary at Wynn Palace
Steve Wynn has always been keen on a range of artistic pieces to enhance the spaces at the Wynn Casinos premises. Some of the Vegas artworks have been moved to Macau, which has now taken over as the primary location of the Wynn art collection.
Mixing contemporary sculpture from the likes of Jeff Koons
with priceless 18th century vases, Chinoiserie and antique tapestries, Wynns art is an eclectic celebration of beauty in many forms. The resort also hosts regular exhibitions, bringing work from some of the worlds most acclaimed artists to the tiny gambling peninsula of Macau for the first time.
Fine Art at the Bellagio
Before starting up Wynn Resorts, CEO Steve Wynn had already overseen the creation of a number of successful Las Vegas casinos. A keen art collector all his life, Wynn set up the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
to display some of his private collection. Over the years the small gallery has played host to works by Picasso, Monet, Warhol and Titian, as well as many exhibitions bringing together multiple artists.
The venue may be small, but it is still one of the premier exhibition spaces that Las Vegas has to offer. With a busy schedule of changing exhibitions, visitors could be treated to anything from Fabergé jewelry to Samurai armor, via modern sculpture or digital art. A must-visit for any Vegas trip.
Public Space Art from Aria
Dotted in and around MGMs Aria Resort
is the first ever collection of public art to be displayed in Las Vegas. Consisting of both specially commissioned and existing works, the pieces work in harmony with the space to create a fascinating spectacle.
Notable contributors include a trio of renowned British sculptors Antony Gormley, Richard Long and Henry Moore. With fifteen artists in total, it is a carefully chosen collection designed to enhance and educate. One of the pieces, a colorful rock sculpture by Ugo Rondinone, stands in the desert outside the Las Vegas city limit.
Beyond Vegas Other Collections of Note
Las Vegas may be home to the most casino art collections, but there are other locations on the map that combine gambling with fine art. The Cordish Art Collection at Live! Casino and Hotel in Maryland is curated by Suzi Cordish, a former Smithsonian Institution board member. The exhibit includes original works by Andy Warhol and Nick Cave.
Visitors to the Bulgarian city of Varna are also treated to a casino space with some impressive art from local and international artists, as well as ancient artefacts of the region. The 5-star beach front resort on the immaculate Black Sea Coast is the perfect location to relax, gamble and take in some art.
Safety of these galleries is never really an issue. As we have seen in many movies and documentaries and as its well known, casinos are super secure from theft. They have whole security departments which are monitoring every inch of the building. In these times of pandemic, when things are moving online, unfortunately, many of these collections are not available to the public. Some of casinos do offer 3D tours. Players are left to play casinos online. Safe online casinos
are no less secure than their land-based counterparts, but unfortunately some of that experience of playing in a real casino is lost despite all the modern technologies like SSL and 2FA supporting it. Casino art galleries are waiting for better times like all of us.