ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art and… the Hard Rock?
Hoping to expand their appeal beyond slot machines and buffets, some casinos are turning to art galleries or exhibitions to attract new customers who wouldn’t otherwise visit a gambling hall.
In the process, they not only help expand their own clientele, but also put new eyes before some of the world’s greatest works of art.
Such an effort began Friday at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, where the highly acclaimed “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” exhibit opened. The 30,000 square foot exhibit uses over 300 of Van Gogh’s works, digitally reproducing them and projecting them onto screens, walls and floors.
“The whole point of an experience like this is to bring people in,” said Fanny Curtat, the exhibit’s art historian. “For a lot of people, museums are intimidating. It’s about exploring and having more ways to experience art.”
Joe Lupo, president of the casino, said casinos need to attract the widest possible range of potential customers.
“You have to try different experiential things to help the city gain new visits, whether it’s art or some other experience to gain that person who doesn’t view Atlantic City as just a gambling destination,” did he declare. “The Van Gogh exhibit was successful in every major market in the country, and Atlantic City should be considered one of those major markets. I think it elevates the city and the property with such a prestigious exhibit. “
The traveling exhibition projects Van Gogh’s works onto the walls and floor of an exhibition hall, with images that grow and merge into each other: cherry trees, for example, grow and sprout flowers, which then fly away in the breeze. Shimmering walls of color dissolve and merge into other shapes and images all around the viewer.
Other casinos do the same. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas has exhibited works by Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Titian and Van Gogh.
The Palms Casino Resort features modern artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Richard Prince and Andy Warhol, as well as many street artists.
MGM’s Aria Resort features public art, including sculptures by artists such as Antony Gormley, Richard Long and Henry Moore.
The Hippodrome Casino in London appointed in 2013 a digital artist in residence, Thomas D Gray, and offers a competition for British artists to exhibit their works there.
Maryland Live! Casino & Hotel has an art collection curated by Suzi Cordish, whose husband owns the casino. The collection includes over 40 works by artists including Warhol, Jennifer Steinkamp, Charlie Ahn, Robert Indiana and Not Vital.
“Many guests are intrigued once they realize the breath of the collection,” said Renee Mutchnik, spokeswoman for the casino. “We think any art lover would be impressed with our artwork, and we’re always looking for opportunities to promote the collection.”
Placing artwork in casinos doesn’t just benefit gambling halls by attracting new customers, according to Curtat, the historian of the Van Gogh exhibit. She said it also helps create new art lovers.
“It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but if someone comes away feeling like they have this Van Gogh connection, maybe the next time they’re in New York they’ll want to go to the (Museum of modern art) and see the real ‘Starry Night’ on the museum wall,” Curtat said. “It will be a victory.”