BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Mediating art and experience: art museums in Las Vegas

    Morgan, Matthew (2021) Mediating art and experience: art museums in Las Vegas. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    Mediating art and experience- Art Museums in Las Vegas.pdf - Full Version

    Download (6MB) | Preview


    This thesis questions contemporary conceptions of the idealized art museum via a detailed analysis of three Las Vegas art museums, The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, The Guggenheim Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Aft Museum and asks what their tactics for navigating the fraught waters of 21st century art museums can tell us about the experiences of other art museums. Although these art museums have been dismissed as anomalies, this thesis contends that they are in fact indicative of some of the wider contradictions, tensions and uncertainties inherent in virtually all modern museums of art, in particular in their relationships to leisure, to authenticity and to their publics in an increasingly commodified and leisure orientated society. The ways in which these institutions related to the interpretation of aesthetic experiences, the architecture of their physical spaces, and their curatorial display choices, in a location that was considered highly unusual, provides a framework for understanding how these art museums created themselves in relation to pre-existing notions of value and the ways in which different values are in competition with each other in that formation. The existence of art museums in Las Vegas, a city with a reputation centered on leisure, tourism and commercialization, brings into sharp focus the influences of these factors on all art museums. Furthermore, prevalent attitudes in Vegas to experiences, authenticity and community are becoming part of the mainstream in the United Sates and beyond. This thesis uses as its case studies the brief lives of these three, small art museums in Las Vegas. By taking typically valued aspects of 'authentic' museums — aesthetic experiences, authenticity and addresses to an imagined community - each chapter will explore how such aspects come into play to create circuits of validation and, in so doing, how the myth of authenticity and legitimacy is or is not created through a referential relationship to an ideal notion of 'the art museum'. I argue that rather than seeing these stories as esoteric examples from a city of exception, we should instead examine how they are indicative of the authenticating processes necessary to the success and failure of all art museums.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2021 13:05
    Last Modified: 07 Dec 2021 13:05


    Activity Overview

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item