by Julie Engelhardt
The museum built by and dedicated to Liberace Mr. Showmanship continues to be one of Las Vegas most visited attractions.
Las Vegas does have its fair share of museums that pay tribute to everything from cars to casinos, but there are others that tip their hat to popular performers who helped make Las Vegas into, well, Vegas! Our tour of these distinctive museums would not be complete unless we took time to visit one dedicated to a man who spent his life entertaining peopleMr. ShowmanshipLiberace.
Liberace (born Wladziu Valentino Liberace) opened the Liberace Las Vegas Museum on April 15, 1979. Even if the name Liberace doesn't ring a bell, or if he was around before your time, I still recommend you take break from the casino to see what is displayed inside his museum.
You'll be able to ogle Liberace's flamboyant costumes, dazzling stage jewelry, gilded candelabras and outrageous cars, plus rare and antique pianos that can only be described as works of art.
As you stroll through the Liberace Museum, which encompasses not one, but two buildings, you will see Liberace's Rhinestone Car, customized in the style of a Duesenberg Roadster. In the Awards Gallery there are plaques, citations, honors, and letters of commendation given to Liberace during his long career.
You can take a glimpse into Liberace's personal life as you walk through a reproduction of his bedroom located in his Palm Springs residence. See rare pieces of Liberace's Moser crystal from Czechoslovakia-one of only two sets in the world made by hand. Who has the other set? Why, Queen Elizabeth II of England, of course!
In the piano gallery there's a 1920's Chickering grand piano that once belonged to George Gershwin. Comedian Shecky Greene's wife, who knew Gershwin, donated it to Liberace. You'll also see Liberace's famous blue and gold Steinway grand piano, along with his nine-foot mirrored Baldwin concert grand piano. He played the Baldwin at his farewell performance in 1986.
It is definitely worth mentioning that the Liberace Las Vegas Museum is more than just a showroom filled with Liberace's treasures. In 1976, he founded the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts. Liberace considered the Foundation, which funds arts scholarships for schools and colleges across the nation, as one of his greatest achievements. His non-profit museum serves as the key funding arm for the Foundation.
An afternoon show at the Liberace Museum Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday pays tribute to the spirit of Liberace. Not an impersonation of the man himself but rather an entertaining and informative presentation at Liberace's famous rhinestone piano by Wes Winterswinner of a contest to find artists who play like the Las Vegas Legend. Winters, who doesn't read music, plays by ear and learned to play by watching Liberace performances on television.
Another interesting side note: Liberace maintained a 19,000 square foot mansion in town known as Las Vegas Villa. This opulent residence became a haven for the visiting rich and famous, holding one of only three private gaming licenses in the state. The other two were held by Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes.
Stay around until dinner timeor come in the eveningand eat at Carluccio's Tivoli Gardens. The food is very good and the décor continues the Liberace theme because the restaurant was originally the Liberace Tivoli Gardens. After visiting the Copenhagen amusement park with the same name, Liberace decided to open a restaurant with a similar theme in the small corner shaped mall he had purchased and turned into a museum to himself.
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