US venues double down on art

Hard Rock Atlantic City hosts immersive Van Gogh exhibition as casinos seek to draw new customer bases

“Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” at Hard Rock Atlantic City.
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Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Casino debuted Friday the “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” exhibit, which uses over 300 Van Gogh’s works by reproducing them digitally and projecting them onto screens, walls and floors. The effort is part of a wider trend in the U.S. that seeks to attract more than the casino's usual customer base, alluring new visitors as gaming venues turn to fine art galleries or exhibitions to bring in new business.

As reported by Associated Press, Joe Lupo, the casino’s president, stated casinos need to appeal to as broad a range of potential customers 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." 

Lupo pointed out that 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." 

Fanny Curtat, the exhibit’s art historian, further told the cited source: “The whole point of an experience like this is to bring people in. For a lot of people, museums are intimidating. It’s all about exploring and having more ways of experiencing art." 

But Hard Rock Atlantic City is not alone in this effort. Other casinos are doing likewise, as The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas has displayed works by Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Titian and Van Gogh as well. On its part, Maryland's Live! Casino & Hotel has an art collection curated by Suzi Cordish, whose husband owns the casino.

The Palms Casino Resort features modern art pieces from Jean-Michel Basquiat, Richard Prince and Andy Warhol, as well as numerous street artists; while MGM's Aria Resort features public art including sculptures by artists including Antony Gormley, Richard Long and Henry Moore.

Placing fine art in casinos benefits not only the gambling halls by appealing to new customers, but also helps create new art lovers, argues Curtat.

"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, as reported by Associated Press. "That will be a win."