DIRECTOR FOR GUGG LAS VEGAS
American art specialist Barbara Bloemink has been named managing director of the Guggenheim Foundation's two new Las Vegas outposts, the 7,660-square-foot Hermitage Guggenheim Museum and the 63,7000-square-foot Guggenheim Las Vegas. Bloemink organized the Whitney Museum's Florine Stettheimer exhibition, was the first director of the Kemper Museum in Kansas City and briefly was a director at Hirschl & Adler Modern in New York. She is to oversee curatorial and other doings at the two museums, whose $30-million cost was paid by the Venetian Casino (featured, by the way, in the current box-office hit, Rat Race). Though the art world has yet to give the Gugg's newest satellite much serious consideration, the museum anticipates a big operation -- a staff of as many as 150 people, with attendance approaching four million visitors a year (second only to the Metropolitan Museum). Bloemink says she is looking forward to bringing culture to a broad public.
Both museums are designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, and promise to be unusual, to say the least. The Guggenheim Hermitage, which is located adjacent to the Venetian's entrance lobby, has interior and exterior walls of "velvety rusted" Cor-Ten steel, a dramatic contrast to Las Vegas' predominating kitsch architecture as well as to the maple floors and ceilings of the facility's four, 1,500-square-foot galleries. As for the Guggenheim Las Vegas, its main gallery measures a huge 210 by 160 feet, with 70-foot-high ceilings. It features a 70-foot-square pivoting door and a 30-foot-wide "trench" running down the middle of the space, that can either be covered or left open to provide access to a lower level. The museum has a built-in 35-ton industrial crane, as well as a 12 by 70 foot skylight covered with a large-scale replica of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling. The north wall of the main gallery is a 60 by 120 foot media wall.
The museums open to the public Oct. 7. At the Hermitage Guggenheim is "Masterpieces and Master Collectors," a six-month-long display of Impressionist and modern works from the holdings of the Gugg and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. At the Guggenheim Las Vegas is "The Art of the Motorcycle," once again in an installation designed by Frank O. Gehry. Admission is $15 for adults at each space.