For Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO, discovering ways to create unique and memorable experiences that get visitors to make Las Vegas someplace they want to come back to goes beyond the expected gaming, dining, entertainment, and shopping. He believes public art enhances the magic of Las Vegas and can elicit something in people that will inspire them to return again and again.
In keeping with that, the addition of artist Marco Cochrane’s 40-foot-tall sculpture, “Bliss Dance,” of a dancing woman to The Park, MGM’s vibrant new entertainment and dining district on the west side of Las Vegas that links three of MGM Resort’s other properties, the Monte Carlo, New York New York, and T-Mobile Arena, is doing just that.
Weighing in at more than 7,500 pounds, by day the sculpture’s mesh stainless steel “skin” glimmers under the sun and at night is illuminated by 3,000 colored LED lights. The piece, a statement about female strength, expression, and self-confidence, cost MGM Resorts more than $2 million. It is part of MGM’s art collection which is spread out among its properties and valued at more than $200 million. MGM’s extensive commitment to art is unparalleled in the gaming industry. And according to Murren, the art strategy has worked, with “Bliss Dance” garnering a lot of attention from social media, and visitors to the property making it a meeting point. He said, “It’s absolutely an asset we have that’s attracting more customers to our resorts, and that’s getting us more corporate business and creating more local awareness,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
An art history major in college, Murren studied art in Europe, and his mother who was an artist inspired him to paint. About 20 years ago, the view that art “should be in the conversation” in relation to the total aesthetic experience of hostility, emerged in the hospitality industry. That concept, Murren said, is one he’s fully embraced.
In 2004 and 2005 the push for art on a public scale began when Murren said he pitched the idea of a CityCenter to MGM’s board of directors. He said it was designed with fine architecture and art in mind. It is considered to be Las Vegas’ first major permanent art collection integrated into a public space and among the world’s most ambitious and largest corporate art collections. Since opening in late 2009, the collection of art at CityCenter has doubled and in some cases tripled in value, said, Murren. He said that overall, MGM possesses at least 15 pieces of art estimated at being worth more than $1 million.
Much of the artwork in Las Vegas has focused on large format paintings and sculptures so they can be enjoyed by the maximum amount of people. Murren said, later this year when MGM opens its MGM National Harbor in Maryland, the focus will be on art that is of historic importance to that region.