Las Vegas is a very visual city. Historically, the glittering mecca’s built-in notoriety has overshadowed conversations about almost anything else. Yet, Las Vegas’s contributions to the art world are gaining more attention. Dig beneath the neon and you’ll find… more neon. But it’s neon with an artistic message and thought-provoking themes. Las Vegas really excels when it comes to art installations. For the uninitiated, art installations are often 3-D creations that transform our perceptions of a certain space. Today, we’ll examine a few of our Sin City favorites.
Omega Mart: An Even More Surreal Experience Than Trader Joe’s
If you live in the Las Vegas area, you’re no doubt familiar with multimedia arts and entertainment company Meow Wolf. They’ve been creating viral content with their immersive art experiences since 2008. House of the Eternal Sun, the collective’s first permanent installation, introduced the world to their uniquely surreal vision. Located in Sante Fe, New Mexico, this sensory stimulating art installation and music venue put the company on the map. So what does this have to do with Las Vegas?
Amidst the pandemic, Meow Wolf unveiled their second permanent art installation facility in Las Vegas’s Area 15. Dubbed Omega Mart, the installation drops its audience into an interactive alternate reality supermarket. The works of over 300 artists fit together to create its unique narrative. But this is art in motion and the story is still being told. Despite high attendance, visitors regularly find new clues to the Omega Mart’s mysterious meaning. Perhaps you’ll uncover even more hints to solving this complex and eerie puzzle.
The Cosmopolitan: An Art Installation in a Resort’s Lobby
You’ve heard that life imitates art. But how about living quarters? This was a question at the forefront of the team behind The Cosmopolitan luxury resort. Conveniently located on the Las Vegas Strip, The Cosmopolitan has taken a more artistic approach to accommodating its guests. The resort’s website clearly states their mission as one of inclusivity in art, rather than gatekeeping elitism. You’ll find that art punctuates every facet of their resort, including Art-O-Mat machines distributed throughout the property. But today, we’re keeping the focus on art installations and The Cosmopolitan really delivers.
The Cosmopolitan’s award-winning digital art installation in its lobby utilizes eight columns each standing at 15 feet. The panels of these columns are constantly displaying carefully curated digital art in an immersive orchestration. This leads to the front desk which is saturated with a final digital panel spanning its length. Spinning different narratives, all of the digital art eventually returns to the theme of life’s travels. Even if you’re not planning to stay at The Cosmopolitan, a trip to their lobby could be worth your while.
The Museum of Dream Space: Put Yourself in the Masterpiece
Need to spruce up your Instagram? The Museum of Dream Space can help. Putting their focus on digital art projections, this collection of art installations is directly inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama. For a while, it seemed like you couldn’t open Instagram without being greeted by a wall of Kusama’s immersive art. The Museum of Dream Space aims to capture a similar communal spirit, though they don’t blatantly state it. It’s easy to consider this cynically, but we also have to evaluate how Andy Warhol would feel about social media. Is this just pop art taken to its logical conclusion?
If you’re not looking to submerge yourself in a photo shoot, the Museum of Dream Space may lose some luster. When purchasing tickets, just keep in mind that the “museum” primarily consists of digital art installations in a mere five rooms. If the price still seems right, it can be a picture-worthy time.
The Neon Museum: Las Vegas Reimagined as an Art Installation
We recently covered The Neon Museum in a blog about things to do in Las Vegas other than gambling. Serving as a luminous memorial for all of the glittering signs of Vegas past, it’s a beacon for history buffs. Since one of the city’s most impressive art installations calls The Neon Museum home, we thought it deserved another mention.
The art installation can be found in the North Gallery. Here, artist Craig Winslow has arranged an audio visual experience honoring Las Vegas’s glowing past. Fittingly titled Brilliant!, it’s possibly the most immersive way to experience the Strip’s glowing history. Brilliant! is a permanent exhibition, and one that residents and tourists alike can’t miss.
Seven Magic Mountains: Installation or Public Art?
You’ll find one of the Las Vegas area’s most iconic art installations about 20 miles southwest of the Strip. Seven Magic Mountains is a concept brought to life by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Unlike most of the other art installations on this list, Seven Magic Mountains is absolutely free. It also requires no reservation which is a true rarity in the post-COVID world. You can easily see the installation off the side of the I-15 freeway. In fact, it’s pretty hard to look away from it.
Seven Magic Mountains are a series of totems created from vibrantly painted stacked boulders. The “mountains” are intended to represent mankind’s interactions with the desert. Some may argue that the placement of Seven Magic Mountains classifies it as “public art” rather than an installation. It’s true that the brilliant towers aren’t contained to an interior space. However, this line is often blurred, so we’re choosing to include it on our list.
Akhob, by James Turrell: A Hidden Installation in a Las Vegas Handbag Shop
In 2013, Louis Vuitton approached noted artist James Turrell to commission an art installation. Today, you can see the results on the fourth floor of their City Center store… if you know it’s there. The installation is free, but you’ll still need a reservation to access the secret area titled Akhob. There you’ll find circular portals opening onto shifting colorscapes to a serene soundtrack.
This “hidden gem” really isn’t all that hidden. You can expect several weeks of solid bookings before finding a spot, so advance planning is encouraged. To get the reservation process moving, call the listed phone number and leave your contact information. If you think you’ve already missed your window, it’s still worth making a call. Las Vegas can be a lucky city, after all!