Las Vegas Planning African American Museum

Posted on: December 21, 2022, 11:21h. 

Last updated on: December 21, 2022, 12:48h.

Las Vegas city government officials are developing an African American Museum and Cultural Center somewhere on Las Vegas’ Historic Westside. About five miles northwest of the Strip, this community was home to the Moulin Rouge, which became the first fully integrated casino hotel in the US when it opened on May 25, 1955.

Historic Westside Las Vegas
The Historic Westside is an African-American community five miles northwest of the Las Vegas Strip. It is currently being revitalized to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. (Image: Google Street View)

The city hired Gallager & Associates – the Washington, DC-based firm that designed the Las Vegas Mob Museum, the National World War II Museum, and the National Museum of African American Music – to develop a master plan.

The intent is to connect existing historical assets to a new facility or facilities that can tell a comprehensive story of the African American experience in the Historic Westside, Las Vegas, Nevada, and beyond,” read a press release from the city. “In addition to museum facilities that may include standing and rotating collections, this master plan will include the development of a cultural arts center to incorporate African American art and artists of all varieties, as well as facilities within which cultural and performing arts production can occur.”

A full budget for the project hasn’t been established, though the National Museum of African American History in Washington, DC has been brought up in planning meetings for reference. It opened in 2016 at a cost of $700 million, $300 million of which was federal funding. Presumably, the city of Las Vegas would also kick in a major chunk of change.

“This is another exciting development for the Historic Westside,” said Ward 5 Councilman Cedric Crear, who represents this area. “The residents of this community and the entire state want to have their stories told, and this project will be a testament to their legacy.”


The idea for the museum was hatched in 2016 as part of the city’s HUNDRED (Historic Urban Neighborhood Design Redevelopment) Plan. This massive revitalization project is funded by tens of millions from the city, private donations, and noncity government funds – including dollars made available through COVID-19 pandemic relief grants.

The plan includes developing new African American restaurants and music venues, a mural project, a new job training center, an urban farm and co-op grocery store, and the Historic Westside Legacy Park, a $3.2 million tribute to the community’s trailblazers.

Legacy Park opened in December 2021 and most of the other projects are already underway.

Gallagher & Associates’ masterplan for the museum – to be developed with input from the city, community, and stakeholders – will answer the most important questions, such as where it will be built, what it will contain, and when it will open. More should be known by the end of 2023.

Not the First

The new museum wouldn’t be the first of its kind in Las Vegas. The Walker African-American Museum & Research Center opened its doors to the west side in 1996 at 705 W. Van Buren Ave. It was forced to shutter during the pandemic and never reopened.

Its proprietor, Gwen Walker, told  she’s having trouble raising the necessary funds to reopen, but added that, if she can’t, she would not consider donating her collection to the new African American museum.