Las Vegas is synonymous with glamour, music and entertainment. In the city’s entire history, no other performer has managed to draw the crowds like “Mr. Showmanship”, Walter Valentino Liberace. Liberace, known for his charismatic personality, dazzling costumes and beautiful music, took the American entertainment industry by storm in the 1950s, 60s and 70s with his film appearances, sold-out concerts, television series and books. In 1976, the entertainer founded the non-profit Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, and three years later opened the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada to serve as a funding source for the Foundation.
The Liberace Museum is the third most popular attraction in Las Vegas and it is not difficult to see why. Situated in a mini-mall (the Liberace Plaza) a couple of miles from the famous Strip, the museum cannot be missed, thanks in part – in true Liberace-style flamboyance - to the giant pink neon piano atop its entrance door. The museum went through major renovations and redecorations several years back and all exhibits were updated and rearranged to offer visitors a peek into the life and loves of Liberace, the man and performer.
The museum is divided into two main areas, each with its own unique features and exhibits. The first building, formerly a bank, is home to two popular galleries that contain Liberace’s car and piano collections. Here, visitors can also view an assortment of the entertainer’s favorite candelabras.
The second building houses items of a more personal nature, ranging from a recreation of Liberace’s dazzling bedroom in his Palm Springs home, to a collection of miniature pianos, family photographs and various antiques. Liberace loved to own beautiful objects and a sampling of some of his most treasured possessions are on show in the museum. For example, visitors can see a rare set of handmade Moser crystal from Czechoslovakia, with the Queen of England being the only other person in the world to own one.
Liberace was best known for his marvelous costumes and jewelry. The museum exhibits some of the singer’s most beautiful (and expensive!) pieces such as his famous beaded tuxedo with the diamond buttons which spelled his name down the front of the suit; or his sixteen foot long white llama fur coat, dotted with sequins and Liberace’s trademark rhinestones.
No other performer could wear jewelry like Liberace. Precious stones could be found on nearly all his costumes, as well as on gigantic rings adorning his fingers and spectacular necklaces at his throat. There are many of Liberace’s most famous pieces on permanent display in the museum, including the biggest rhinestone in the world, created for the master by the manufacturers of the Austrian rhinestones that were used in his on-stage costumes.
The museum houses a café where visitors can relax during their visit, as well as a well-stocked store where plenty of Liberace memorabilia can be purchased.