Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Liberace lives

I always wondered about the Liberace Museum nestled in a strip mall a couple miles off The Strip. If Elvis-o-rama behind The Strip couldn't stay open, I figured Liberace's days were numbered.
outside Liberace Museum
I was so wrong.

On a Thursday 2pm tour, there were 28 others basking in the campy crystal glory.

The museum is divided into two buildings. The front building where the tour starts, houses his cars and pianos. From that building the tour continues along the strip mall where his furrier and costume designer still have store space. When his costumer is there, she comes out and tells Liberace stories. I am sure this is delightful in the spring or late fall, but probably not so much in the 100+ degree summer. Other businesses renting in this mall include an Asian grocery store and a bar. The 2nd building holds his costumes and jewelry as well as the snack bar and gift shop.

The whole strip mall is owned by the Liberace trust. He bought the land in his heyday and started a non-profit organization as part of his continual battle with the taxman.


When I was a kid my dad had one of these cars, but in the more tasteful red sparkly paint. It's a kit car and a piece of it would arrive each month. I can't remember how many pieces arrived before he was like "SHIT I don't know how to build a car- and trying to figure it out kinda sucks" and took it it to his mechanic to put together for him. He drove this little deathtrap on the LA Freeways daily. Every day that he picked me up from school, the kids crowded around it.

Liberace pianos

Liberace kept track of his costumes and didn't duplicate them at a tour stop unless specifically asked (the Australians always requested the hotpants).
Liberace capes

Swarovski crystals were struggling before Liberace discovered them as a cheaper way to bejewel his costumes. You can buy crystals from the gift shop tax free and as a charity write off because of their non-profit status.

Liberace was unhappy with this painted portrait of his mom because of the swollen foot that was faithfully rendered.

A desk from Versailles. This reminds me: You know what Vegas is missing? An IKEA!
On the 2nd Sunday of the month, locals and their guests get in free. The rest of the time admission is $15, $10 for students and seniors. There is daily shuttle service to/from Strip hotels.



Blogger Fuji Mama said...

How fun! It reminds me of visiting Graceland.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous swapXIIgal said...

It's SO sparkly!

12:22 AM  
Blogger Magatha said...

I've lived in the valley for 12 years and I've never been over there. Thanks for the tour. I've never been on the dam tour either. Hint Hint ;-)

I've always wondered how do they clean all that sparkly stuff? You know it gets really dirty here in the sandbox/dustbowl.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Javajem said...

Thanks tour guide Nic!!

I think we stopped here to check out the R2D2 mailbox!!

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so glad to see you wrote about the Liberace Museum - it is very worthy to be in the news. We recently visited on our trip. I was impressed at the collection of beautiful and one of a kind cars, costumes, pianos antiques all so priceless! The admission and tour was so reasonably priced and the free shuttle picked us up right at our hotel. The gift store had wonderful unique items that were much more reasonable than the strip gift shops. We also had dinner at Liberace's Italian restaurant (Carluccio's)next door which was a beautiful atmosphere and also much more reasonably priced than the strip/hotel restaurants. We learned all about this wonderful place on their website www.liberace.org. We also felt great about the fact that part of the money we spent goes directly to the scholarship fund helping students all over the US. We were so impressed we became members of the foundation.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Margatha;

I have lived in the Las Vegas valley for 10 years and find it a wonderful place to live. The Liberace Museum has several volunteers who take care of Liberace's costumes and antiques, cleaning them every week with great care. You should really go to the Hoover Dam also and learn about this 8th wonder of the world.....Have you been to the Springs Preserve or Red Rock Canyon? Put that on your list as well - you have a lot of catching up to do!

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm with your readers! We are always thrilled when someone discovers this "hidden treasure." You were so kind to include information about The Liberace Foundation being the caretaker of this wonderful museum. The Foundation has also funded scholarships for more than 2,500 performing and creative arts students at schools across the country to the tune of over $5 Million.

Thanks again,
Liberace Foundation

10:28 AM  
Blogger Polly said...

I should have put this in the post, but one of the bests part about the tour was our tour guide putting everything in perspective for us. She had a terrific stories about Liberace that even the non-fan would enjoy. If you don't take the tour, you really miss out. The tour runs throughout the day-- it's not difficult to catch one.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

This is one of my favorite places to visit when I'm in Vegas. I never get tired of the exhibits! Great photos!

5:48 PM  

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