A Different View of Las Vegas

by Rianne Ojeh on 25 February 2014, 10:02AM

Since its Rat Pack days Las Vegas has been inextricably associated with legendary shows, entertainers and gambling, earning itself the title of ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World’. Say ‘Las Vegas’ and it’s likely that showgirls in elaborate headdresses and Cirque du Soleil shows will spring to mind, but Las Vegas has so much more to offer. Away from the glittering lights of the strip and the ring of slot machines lies the largely undiscovered, but equally impressive, cultural side of Las Vegas. Much of Las Vegas’ cultural scene can be found in the newly reenergized downtown area, the oldest part of Las Vegas, which plays host to fascinating museums such as The Mob Museum and the Neon Museum which explores Las Vegas’ captivating and inspiring history.


However, the Strip is also not without its own cultural aspects and it has so much more on offer than first meets the eye. The Strip is home to many of Las Vegas’ top galleries and exhibitions which can be found at some of the major resorts including The Bellagio and The Venetian. By taking time to overlook the usual preconceptions of Las Vegas, a whole new city can be discovered and visitors will leave having experienced all that this vibrant destination has to offer.


Downtown Las Vegas has seen a wave of regeneration over recent years, which has included the opening of various museums and attractions, making this area of Las Vegas a key place to visit for those wanting to discover its rich culture. Downtown Las Vegas now offers numerous opportunities to explore the history of this captivating city.


Opened in 2012, The National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement (The Mob Museum) is a world-class destination dedicated to the thrilling story of organised crime and law enforcement. The museum is housed in a former federal courthouse and United States Post Office, which contained the very courtroom where, in 1950, one of 14 national Kefauver hearings was held to expose and control organised crime in America. It is therefore a very fitting location for a museum devoted to organised crime history. The museum presents an exciting and authentic view of the mob’s impact on Las Vegas’ history and its unique imprint on the world.


Another cultural attraction equally as popular, but entirely different, is the Neon Museum. Although also located in downtown Las Vegas, the Neon Museum could not be further away from the underworld of The Mob Museum. The Neon Museum is a non-profit organisation dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic and cultural enrichment. The museum celebrates some of the city’s most distinctive architectural landmarks, offering visitors an insight into Las Vegas’ colourful history.


As well as museums, downtown Las Vegas also offers an exclusive insight into the contemporary culture of Las Vegas. The first Friday of every month marks an event known as ‘First Friday’. First Friday is celebrated in the Arts District of downtown Las Vegas. This family-friendly event features art and music, community and culture, people and food and is suitable for all ages. Young and established local artists display and sell their work, whilst there are also special art installations and live performance paintings. The event signifies a community coming together to celebrate art, music and food.


The Strip is not only home to neon lights, casinos and showgirls. If you search beyond the glitter you will find an exciting and world-class art scene. Bellagio is home to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA), which over the years has housed some of the world’s most renowned artists’ work, including Monet masterworks, Warhol celebrity portraits and Faberge treasures from the Kremlin. The Venetian Las Vegas is home to the spectacular Peter Lik Gallery. The Peter Lik Gallery showcases striking digitally-enhanced photographs by world-renowned photographer Peter Lik. Lik’s work is celebrated for its vibrant colours, stunning beauty and natural settings. Also showing at The Venetian is the Imagine Exhibitions Gallery, which currently features National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs. This exhibition contains some of the publication’s most renowned photographs from its 125-year history, such as Steve McCurry’s unforgettable ‘Afghan Girl’. As well as viewing the photographs themselves, visitors can learn about the stories behind the iconic images, and view the sequence of images before and after the perfect shot was taken.


Las Vegas has so much more to offer than its traditional stereotypes. Beyond the entertainment, the shows, the events and the casinos, there is an undiscovered culture that is waiting to be explored. If visitors take the opportunity to discover all that this extravagant city has to offer, from its rich history to its world class art exhibitions, they will not be disappointed.

For more information about holidays to Las Vegas visit www.travelbag.co.uk/holidays/usa/las-vegas

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