Liberace Museum to Close Doors

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Liberace Foundation and Museum

The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada is set to close its doors on October 17th.

Founded in 1979, the museum contains a dazzling array of Mr. Showmanship's pianos, costumes, jewelry, and car collection.

In a press release, the Liberace Foundation stated the museum is being forced to close due to "the economic downturn and the decline in the number of visitors."

According to the Foundation, the memorabilia at the museum will be saved and there are plans to put together a national touring exhibit.

"The traveling exhibit is an exciting way to share the life and legacy of Liberace while providing an income stream for the Foundation," said Jeff Koep, chair of the Foundation.

Liberace Museum Closing

Liberace Foundation and Museum

Pauline Lachance, the historian and archivist at the Foundation, told MSNBC: "He's made such an impact on my life; it's unbelievable. I get kind of choked up talking about him."

The flamboyant pianist and showman Wladziu Valentino Liberace, or "Walter," died in 1987 at the age of 67. At one time, he was the highest paid entertainer in the world.

Liberace himself opened the museum 31 years ago to provide scholarship money for students in the arts. In its lifetime, the Foundation has provided more than $6 million to over 2,700 students.

Liberace Museum Closing

Liberace Foundation and Museum

In its heyday, the museum brought in 450,000 visitors a year -- a number that has since dwindled to around 50,000. Foundation president Jack Rappaport told MSNBC the museum is "just geographically not desirable." Located three miles off The Strip, the museum is not easily accessible to tourists who would rather not stray from the casinos.

Since the museum announced its closure a week ago, attendance has nearly tripled. The museum is staying open extra hours to accommodate visitors. For more information, visit www.liberace.org.

More photos of what's inside:
Liberace Museum Closing

julialat34, flickr

Liberace Museum Closing

julialat34, flickr

Liberace Museum Closing

julialat34, flickr

Liberace Museum Closing

Ethan Prater, flickr

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