Hoping to expand their appeal beyond the slot machine and buffet crowd, some casinos are turning to fine art galleries or exhibitions to bring in new business from customers who might not otherwise visit a gambling hall.
In the process, they not only assist in expanding their own consumer bases but also help expose some of the greatest works of art to new audiences.
One such initiative got underway on Friday at the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City, where the acclaimed “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” exhibition opened.
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 all about exploring and having more ways of experiencing art.
According to Joe Lupo, the casino’s president, casinos need to attract as many different types of potential consumers as possible.
You need to try different experiential things to help the city acquire new visitation, whether it’s art or some other experience to acquire that person who doesn’t look at Atlantic City as just a gaming destination, he said. The Van Gogh exhibit has been successful in every major market in the country, and Atlantic City needs to be looked at as one of those major markets. I think it elevates the city and the property with such a high-profile exhibit.
In the walk-through display, Van Gogh’s paintings are projected onto the walls, floor, and ceiling of a viewing space, growing and merging into one another. Cherry trees, for instance, develop blossoms that later blow away in the wind. Around the audience, shimmering color walls transform into various shapes and images.
The same is being done by other casinos. In Las Vegas, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art features pieces by Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Titian, and Van Gogh on display.
The Palms Casino Resort is home to contemporary works by street artists, Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The public artwork of MGM’s Aria Resort includes sculptures by Henry Moore, Richard Long, and Antony Gormley.
Thomas D. Gray, a digital artist, was appointed as resident in 2013 at the Hippodrome Casino in London, which also holds a competition for British artists to have their work displayed there.
Suzi Cordish, whose husband owns Maryland’s Live! Casino & Hotel, has assembled an art collection for the establishment. More than 40 pieces by artists like Warhol, Jennifer Steinkamp, Charlie Ahn, Robert Indiana, and Not Vital are included in the collection.
Many guests are intrigued once they realize the breath of the collection, said Renee Mutchnik, a spokesperson for the casino. We believe that any appreciator of the arts would be impressed by our art pieces, and we are always looking for opportunities to promote the collection.
According to Curtat, the historian of the Van Gogh exhibit, displaying good art in casinos draws in new customers, which benefit more than just the gambling halls. She said it also helps create new art lovers.
It might seem like an unlikely pairing, but if anybody gets out of this a feeling that they have this connection with Van Gogh, maybe the next time they are in New York they’ll want to go to (The Museum of Modern Art) and see the actual ‘Starry Night’ on the museum wall, Curtat said. That will be a win.