MGM Resorts doubles down on commitment to art in Las Vegas

The magic behind Las Vegas and getting visitors to return again and again is creating experiences with gaming, entertainment, shopping, and dining.

For MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, include public art as one of those experiences that can create magical moments that people won’t forget.

That’s the expectation behind “Bliss Dance,” a 40-foot-tall sculpture of a dancing woman in MGM’s The Park, the new dining and entertainment district that links New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts and T-Mobile Arena.

The creation of artist Marco Cochrane, the sculpture weighs more than 7,500 pounds and is illuminated at night by 3,000 colored LED lights.

The piece cost MGM Resorts more than $2 million and is part of an overall art collection valued at more than $200 million spread out among its properties. No other gaming company has made such an extensive commitment to art.

That art strategy has worked, according to Murren. “Bliss Dance” has gotten a lot of attention on social media, and visitors to the property are making it a location to meet, he said.

“It’s absolutely an asset we have that’s attracting more customers to our resorts, and that’s getting us more corporate business and creating more local awareness,” Murren said. “It dates back to the philosophy that we all have here in Las Vegas — that it’s our duty to create experiences, to create provocative new ideas and to create moments for visitors so that they come back again and again.”

Murren, an art history major in college who studied art in Europe and was inspired to paint by his artist mother, said a view emerged in the hospitality industry about 20 years ago that art “should be in the conversation” when talking about the overall aesthetic experience of hospitality. It’s a concept he said he’s fully embraced.

“The founding fathers and mothers of this town always had, even if it was whimsical, an interest in the arts,” said Murren. “We’re just elevating it and amplifying it to a way that has attracted an increasingly a discerning global customer.”

When the Bellagio opened in 1998 under Steve Wynn and before it became an MGM property in 2000, it featured a Gallery of Fine Art. The Mansion at MGM that opened in 1999 has an eclectic art collection from 14th century manuscripts, tapestries and contemporary artists, but that’s seen only by invited guests, Murren said.

The push for art on a public scale started in 2004 and 2005 when Murren said he pitched the idea of CityCenter to the board of directors. CityCenter was designed with art and fine architecture in mind, he said.

“Even during the dark days of 2008 and 2009 (with the recession) we continued to emphasize the role of art in public spaces,” Murren said.

CityCenter’s is considered the first major permanent collection of art in Las Vegas integrated into a public space and one of the world’s largest and most ambitious corporate art collections. That includes works by acclaimed artists sand sculptors such as Maya Lin, who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin’s “Silver River” sculptor inspired by the Colorado River is suspended above Aria’s registration desk.

CityCenter’s collection has included works from Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, Henry Moore, Richard Long and James Turrell.

The art collection at CityCenter has doubled or in some cases tripled in value since it opened in late 2009, Murren said. Some of the most extraordinary works by renowned artists have increased as much as four to five times what it was acquired for or commissioned. A sculpture by English artist Henry Moore in the park between Aria and The Shops at Crystals is probably worth eight figures, he added.

Overall, Murren said MGM has at least 15 pieces of art worth more than $1 million. The Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio has more than $30 million in art alone, he said. It includes a collection of original Picasso paintings, silkscreens, tapestries, pottery and ceramics.

Much of the Las Vegas artwork has focused on sculptures and large format paintings where the maximum amount of people can enjoy them. When the company opens MGM National Harbor in Maryland later this year, the art will focus on collection of historic importance to the Mid-Atlantic region, Murren said.

Art not only has to make sense for the space it fills but also fit the company’s core values in terms of diversity and inclusion, which are valued by corporate guests and other visitors when they book rooms, Murren said. “Bliss Dance,” one of his favorites along with Lin’s sculpture, would be an example of that value and importance of empowering women and creating safe environments for all people, he said, adding it’s beautiful, fun and uplifting.

“I believe that art is an essential element of quality of life,” Murren said. “I believe that all people regardless of their level of interest, education in the arts or even inclination has a visceral positive experience when they are enriched visually. That visual experience could be a desert park that we built between New York-New York and Monte Carlo or it could be a statue or oil painting.. It’s a great feeling that our customers are seeking out these selfie moments and one-of-a kind experiences not on the traditional type of itinerary.”

Murren said he would like to commission art by James Turrell, who he calls the greatest living American artist whose work deals with light and space, for placement on the Strip. He would like it to mix ambient light with artificial light to create a three-dimensional image of the stars and sky.

“If I accomplished this over the next several years, I would be over the moon,” Murren said. “People are very spontaneous and experimental and searching social channels to find the next great fun or pop-up moment. It’s our responsibility to answer that call. Art really works. Art is a rallying point, particularly for our international customers, but also everyone that visits Las Vegas. The feedback of when we do take some chances like build The Park or install a 40-foot tall woman sculpture, the feedback has been so positive that it encourages us to do it again and again. And we will.”

Business Videos
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA/Boring Company Press Conference
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced a collaboration with Elon Musk's The Boring Company to develop and operate an autonomous people mover system for the Las Vegas Convention Center District.
International Pizza Expo includes green and gluten free
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included companies focused on vegan and gluten free, and plant-based pizza boxes. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo kicks off in Las Vegas
The first day of the International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center is everything Pizza. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
T-Mobile program aids guests with sensory needs
A program at T-Mobile Arena is designed to provide a more sensory friendly experience for guests.
Photo Booth Expo
Danielle May talks about how Simple Booth transformed her Volkswagen bus into a business.
Nevada Gaming Commission's highest fines
The highest fines assessed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, according to commission Chairman Tony Alamo: 1) Wynn Resorts Ltd., $20 million, 2019 2) CG Technology (then known as Cantor G&W Holdings), $5.5 million, 2014 3) The Mirage, $5 million ($3 million fine, $2 million compensatory payment), 2003 4) Stardust, $3 million, 1985 5) Santa Fe Station, $2.2 million ($1.5 million fine, $700,000 compensatory payment), 2005 6) Las Vegas Sands, $2 million, 2016 7) CG Technology, $1.75 million, 2018 8) CG Technology, $1.5 million (also $25,000 in escrow for underpaid patrons), 2016 9) Caesars Entertainment, $1.5 million, 2015 10) Imperial Palace, $1.5 million, 1989 11) Peppermill Casinos, $1 million, 2014
Tiny Pipe Home vs Shipping Crate
A Tiny pipe home was displayed at the International Builders Show this week in Las Vegas.
Auto repair shortage affects Las Vegas
The auto repair industry is facing a national shortage of workers.
Franchising industry booming
Experts say Las Vegas is a hotbed for the franchise industry.
Africa Love owner talks about his store in Las Vegas
Mara Diakhate, owner of Africa Love, gift and decor store, talks about his store in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Town Square developer Jim Stuart building again in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ real estate bubble took developers on a wild ride, something Jim Stuart knows all too well. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Salon opens at Veterans Village
T.H.E. Salon, owned by Nicole Christie, celebrated their opening at the Veterans Village with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Southwest Airlines considering Las Vegas-Hawaii flights
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the airline is "very focused" on Hawaii. Hawaiians have a strong presence in Las Vegas.The city’s unofficial status is “Hawaii’s ninth island.” In 2018, at least 2,958 people from Hawaii moved to Nevada. Of those, 88.7 percent moved into Clark County, according to driver license surrender data. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 310,249 people came to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2018.
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day. About 1.2 million Nevadans are expected to celebrate this year, a 5 percent drop from 2018. A growing number of people consider Valentine’s Day over-commercialized. Others weren’t interested in the holiday or had nobody to celebrate with. But spending is expected to rise. Those who do celebrate are buying for more people. The average American is expected to spend about $162 this year for Valentine’s Day, a 57 percent jump from a decade prior. Katherine Cullen, director of industry and consumer insights at NRF
Foreclosures of mansions in Las Vegas
Las Vegas was ground zero for America's foreclosure crisis after the housing bubble burst. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Helfenbein talks about the impact of tariffs on the clothing industry
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Air flight attendants learn how to handle a water landing
Field instructor Ashleigh Markel talks about training prospective flight attendants for Allegiant Air getting live training with a raft for a water landing at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex in Henderson on Monday. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery talks about Las Vegas return
Michael Feighery, CEO of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, discusses the restaurant's upcoming return to the Las Vegas Strip.
Apartments to Come to Hughes Center
Developer Eric Cohen discusses his current building project at the Hughes Center office park in Las Vegas, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Stratosphere to rebrand to The STRAT
The Stratosphere, a 1,150-foot-tall property in Las Vegas will be renamed The STRAT Hotel, Casino and Skypod.
Local designers’ picks for the Las Vegas Market
The trends that local interior designers are noticing at the Las Vegas Market this year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing