The quest for a major Las Vegas art museum focuses on Symphony Park downtown

Seems we’ve heard this song before.

Not that Las Vegas’ cultural boosters could ever ignore the siren call of a major local art museum.

At least the folks behind the latest attempt — the backers of the proposed Art Museum at Symphony Park — seem to be doing the right things.

They’re partnering with Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art to present “Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art of Nevada” at a downtown Las Vegas warehouse turned pop-up museum.

Local proponents have raised $2 million. They also have a memo of understanding from the city of Las Vegas for a Symphony Park parcel, solving the problem of the future museum’s home.

Let’s hope they prove more successful at achieving their dream than such predecessors as the Nevada Institute of Contemporary Art and the Las Vegas Art Museum.

When I arrived in Las Vegas in the 1980s, the Nevada Institute of Contemporary Art was the great art hope, attracting such high-profile supporters as (pre-divorce) casino owners Steve and Elaine Wynn. (They ended up including art galleries at their Bellagio and Wynn megaresorts.)

These days, Elaine Wynn co-chairs an art museum board of trustees — at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Last year, she pledged $50 million toward a new home for that museum’s permanent collection.

The Las Vegas Art Museum, founded in 1950 as an art league, has a permanent collection, too. It’s now based at UNLV’s Barrick Museum of Art, because the Las Vegas Art Museum — which operated from 1997 to 2009 at the Sahara West Library — shut down in 2009, swamped by the financial tsunami.

In 2013, downtown proponents announced a $29 million project dubbed the Modern Contemporary Art Museum. (Couldn’t they make up their minds?) At the time, after all that time, my reaction was: We’ll have to see it to believe it.

Here’s hoping Symphony Park museum backers achieve their dream. For now, however, I’ll retain my wait-and-see skepticism while reporting on their quest.

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

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