Liberace Museum To Close Its Doors in Las Vegas – End of an Era

Sadly, due to falling revenue, the eccentric and  wonderfully kitschy Liberace Museum , which has long delighted fans in its home within a strip mall on the west side of Las Vegas, is closing next month.  The  Museum  is closing its doors Oct. 17th,  after 31 years.

This landmark was dedicated to one of the 20th century’s most flamboyant entertainers, known as much for his glitzy costumes and extravagant performance style as for his piano playing, and who epitomized bling long before it was a household word!

“In some ways, the museum was the last vestige of an entertainment icon,” said Jeff Koep, chairman of The Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, which runs the museum that exhibits the entertainer’s extensive costumes, cars, pianos, candelabra, and jewelry. 


Often referred to as “Mr. Showmanship,” Liberace is known for giving his audience what they wanted, with performances that included everything from classical to pop music. He is credited with influencing entertainers from Elvis and Michael Jackson to Elton John and Lady Gaga.


Koep said, there has been a steady decline in numbers to the Liberace Museum, from a high of 450,000 annual visitors 15 years ago to about 50,000 annually today. Over the years, people just lose interest I guess.

Along with the museum’s real estate problems, mortgage debt and lack of a steady income stream — also factored into the decision to close. The Liberace Foundation owns the strip mall that houses the museum, but 50 percent of the rental units currently are vacant. And while royalty revenue from intellectual property was robust 30 years ago, today selling to a younger generation unfamiliar with Liberace’s music is tough, Koep said.

“We are not closing the book on Liberace or what he stands for,” he added. “We’re trying to regenerate the brand.”


The foundation recently finalized a deal for a national traveling tour of its Liberace collection and one day hopes to reopen the museum in a more accessible location in Las Vegas. Currently, it is five miles from the Strip.

Being more fiscally prudent also will ensure Liberaces legacy to continue to fund scholarships . Since 1976, roughly $6 million in music scholarships have been awarded to some 2,700 students.

It’s a shame really,  with the new movie coming out about Liberaces life, sceduled for 2011-2012. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh will present the scandalous story of the flamboyant pianist Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) and his long-term partner, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), in this Warner Bros. biopic.

One  piece of good news for the many GLBT visitors who’ve made their way to this campy landmark: the long-time gay bar in the same shopping center, Good Times , is alive and well – it continues to be an especially popular venue with the gay Latino community in Las Vegas, and it is NOT closing.

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