As the promotion of Las Vegas culture continues to be challenged, with many museums closing or facing severe budget cuts, the Liberace Museum continues to weather the economic storm. In fact, it’s just celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Liberace’s fan popularity continues to soar. A new show titled Liberace: The Man, The Music & The Memories has been announced for Broadway this fall. The musical will recreate the experience of a Liberace concert in a Las Vegas show room. The musician and comedian Wayland Pickard has been cast in the leading role.
Liberace opened his museum in 1979, three years after establishing his Liberace Foundation for helping students of the arts. All proceeds from the museum still support the foundation’s mission. So far, 2,500 scholars have received $5.2 million in awards.
Over the years, the museum hasn’t changed much. And though his fans are aging, still about 50,000 people tour the Liberace Museum daily, says museum director Tanya Combs. Featuring his cars, pianos, clothes, and jewels, the people who come through the doors watched Liberace on television, saw him in concert, or just heard the museum in a fun attraction, she adds.
Then there are those people who know Liberace, with his bejeweled costumes, larger-than-life jewelry and penchant for flashy shows- the kin of Las Vegas kitsch.
Liberace performed in Las Vegas for the first time in 1944, playing the piano at the Las Frontier Hotel. He dubbed himself Mr. Showmanship in 1956 during an engagement at the Riviera, and make Las Vegas his official residence.
Liberace represented a style of entertainment that became the very essence and embodiment of the City of Entertainment.