The biggest bid to make great art-viewing happen in Vegas is not staying in Vegas: The Guggenheim Hermitage Museum will close May 11, as the New York-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia, refocus their partnership on a proposed venture in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Located off the main lobby of the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, the 7,600-square-foot museum opened in October 2001. Exhibitions included Impressionist paintings, ancient Egyptian artifacts, pop art and Robert Mapplethorpe photographs. As a parting gesture, admission will be free starting Friday for the last show, "Modern Masters From the Guggenheim Collection."
Thomas Krens, director of the Guggenheim Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday that the Vegas venture was intended to last "for a specified term, and that has been fulfilled." He held out the possibility of continuing to work with the Venetian on "projects . . . under discussion."
Attendance averaged about 1,000 a day when the Guggenheim Hermitage was a hot new attraction at $15 a ticket, but it had fallen to about 500 over the last year or two, according to its managing director, Elizabeth Herridge.
The Guggenheim also announced that architect Zaha Hadid, the Iraq-born Pritzker Prize winner, will produce a conceptual design as part of a feasibility study for the joint museum with the Hermitage in Vilnius.