Story by Olga Bas
Photos: Courtesy Liberace Museum
Las Vegas may flash and glitter, but where would the Strip be without Liberace who single-handedly invented glitter (not really, but it sure seems like it)? This is where the renowned Liberace Museum comes in. Occupying two separate buildings within the Liberace Plaza, is set to celebrate its 30th Anniversary next April. It was founded by the late Liberace himself where visitors could view his extensive collections of impressive stage jewelry and costumes, as well as more private memorabilia.
Building One of the museum houses the Liberace Historical Timeline sharing photos and milestones from his life, such as his rhinestoned cars and rare pianos (among them a rhinestone-encrusted Baldwin grand). After undergoing a renovation in 2002 Building Two was unveiled. It showcases the impressive (and no doubt rhinestone) Costume Collection, Jewelry Collection, and the Awards Gallery, featuring two Emmy’s which Liberace won for his television show. Among the landmarks of the museum, an impressive re-creation of the master bedroom from "The Cloisters," Liberace's grand Palm Springs estate, features an antique Louis XV desk from Russia's Czar Nicholas II as well as examples of Liberace's collection of sparkling and clear Moser crystal -- unlike Liberace's murky sexuality, hotly disputed in the courts and debated in the newspapers.
The museum also works to support The Liberace Foundation for the Creative and Performing Arts, which helps students pursue a career in the creative arts by offering scholarship assistance. To date, the Liberace Foundation has awarded in excess of $5.2 million dollars. No doubt spurred on by the remembrance of his hard-won career. Though not the most ideal or the most artistic of pursuits, memorably, Liberace performed at strip clubs during the Great Depression: a fruitful venture.
In addition to the sparkle of the museum's various collections, each month there is a handful of events to entertain the masses. The pianist Philip Fortenberry, from the cast of critically-acclaimed musical Jersey Boys, will be featured in the New Liberace Cabaret every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 1:00pm. Afterward enjoy Lunch With Liberace where you can lunch (or have a snack) at the Liberace Café, while being treated to a Liberace video from the Museums' archives. And those wishing to learn more about Liberace can schedule advance appointments with the Museum Archives Manager to view personal mementos and an extensive collection of photographs and press clippings chronicling Liberace's legendary career.
The legacy lives on as each day at the Liberace Museum is like another encore.