Unique Day Trips From Vegas – Goldwell Open Air Museum

There are a number of unique day trips from Vegas. The most popular road trips include Area 51, the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon National Park, and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. However, very few travelers know of the Goldwell Open Air Museum.

Debuting in 1984, the Goldwell Open Air Museum’s collection began with its first piece titled, “The Last Supper” by the Belgian artist Albert Szukalski. This ghostlike creation of Christ and His disciples with the Amargosa Valley as the backdrop is a stunning sight to witness.

Unique Day Trips From Vegas

Vegas is purposely designed to make visitors forget about the outside world. However, it can be exciting to see new things and perhaps explore the state of Nevada a bit as well. So, whether you’re into slots or table games, sports betting, or the latest sports news, it can be extremely satisfying to take a break and enjoy unique day trips from Vegas.

The Goldwell Open Air Museum is a unique day trip from Vegas, and well worth the trip. In short, it consists of 10 custom art pieces, all of which, are spectacular in their own individual way.

The backdrop for the Goldwell Open Air Museum is stunning!

Located just outside the town of Beatty, the museum is most often visited by tourists visiting the nearby Death Valley National Park. Also, the museum is outdoor so it can be visited any time of the day and is of course, free of charge.

Tip: Travelers looking to visit Death Valley National Park should consider overnighting in Beatty at the Exchange Club Motel, one of the most affordable lodging options in the area. Also, Beatty is the closest town to Death Valley which makes it one of the most convenient locations for accessing the park.

Below is a short description of each of the 10 art pieces.

1. The Last Supper – 1984

The concept of “The Last Supper” began with Szulkaski wrapping live models with a special fabric drenched in plaster. Next, he positioned them in the same fashion as in Da Vinci’s original painting.

The Last Supper

After the plaster set, the models slipped out of the fabric, leaving the lifesize shrouds as interpretive figurines. To further refine the cloaks, Szukalski coated them with fiberglass to protect them from the surroundings.

Check Out This Tour of Death Valley: Wine Tasting with Death Valley Sightseeing and Stargazing From Vegas

During the next decade, numerous pieces were added to the collection by three other artists. All of the artists were from Belgian, had considerable exhibition records, and were experts in European art. Rather than display their art in some stuffy European museum, they decided to share it with the world in a rather obscure area near Death Valley in the Nevada desert, a mere two hours from Las Vegas.

2. Portone – 2021

Portone, which is Italian for “doorway” was our favorite piece at the museum. From a distance, it appears to be a simple square-like box. However, upon getting closer, the unique angles and shape of Portone become exponentially interesting. In fact, it’s so boring looking from a distance that we noticed another couple visiting the museum didn’t even bother to view it.

Harry’s jumping through the portal!

The goal of the artist, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, was for viewers of Portone to walk through the piece. Visitors should enter the front square and exit the square that faces the Amargosa Vally. Viewing the calmness of the vast desert while exiting the massive beta-sheet should provide a sense or feeling of renewal or refuge from the “outside” world, and it does!

Tip: Vegas tourists without a vehicle or anyone looking to avoid the hassle should consider the Small-Group Death Valley National Park Day Trip from Las Vegas.

3. Ghost Rider – 1984

Ghost Rider

Created by Szulkaski, Ghost Rider should look familiar to The Last Supper as it was constructed in the same manner. Also, a nearby Beatty resident donated his bicycle and time to complete the piece.

Tip: Use Discover Cars to get the best car rental rates in Vegas. A rental car allows visitors to easily access the open-air museum, and other sites including Hoover Dam, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon.

4. Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada – 1992

Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada

Dr. Hugo Heyerman’s take on a classical Greek goddess resembles that of a giant naked woman made of legos. The juxtaposition of Greek and contemporary styles represents the old world connecting with the high-tech pixelated version of the modern age.

Read: The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park

5. Icara – 1992


Hand-carved on-site by Dre Peeters, Icara serves as a female antithesis to Icarus, a character of ancient Greek legend. Furthermore, Icarus is recognized as the boy who attempted to fly to the sun with wings glued with wax.

6. Tribute to Shorty Harris – 1994

Audrey’s holding the penguin’s flippers at the Tibute to Shorty Harris!

Resembling some desert hallucination, this piece of art appears to be a miner standing next to a penguin. Created by Fred Bervoets, an artist who felt out of place in the desert decided to communicate this discomfort with his tribute to Shorty Harris, a legendary prospector of Rhyolite.

7.  Sit Here! – 2000

Harry found a relaxing seat with a view at Sit Here!

The wonderfully designed couch was originally fabricated in Las Vegas at the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum by Sofie Siegmann. The artist-in-residence undertaking was saved, moved, and revived at the open-air museum.

8. Rhyolite’s District of Shadows – 2006

A simple plaque on the ground is one of about 150 situated around the globe. In short, the plaques are part of a global work called Kcymaerxthaere that was created by Eames Demetrios. Furthermore, each plaque commemorates a significant event or place that has taken place in a parallel universe.

The plaque is placed in what was formerly known as Geldwll, or “District of Shadows” in the Cognate language. It’s said that miners used this location to pray. As the popularity of rhyolite grew, this became the cultural and spiritual center of the area.

9. Serving Ghost – 1984

The Serving Ghost

Another one of Szukalski’s creepy ghost figures was brought to the museum in 2010. Donated by Patricia & Art Adams, the figurine was originally holding a serving tray with wooden bottles on it. After the bottles disintegrated, the tray was replaced with an artist’s palette.

10. 1,000 in 1 Cranes – 2016

1000 in 1 Cranes with Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada in the background.

In Japan, 1000 paper cranes are strung together and presented as either a gift to welcome newborn babies or as a wedding gift. In fact, this process is commonly referred to as “senbazuru.”

Cierra Pedro created the large metal crane and designed it to be equal to the total size of 1000 paper cranes attached together. As a result, it’s “1000 in 1.”

The Goldwell Open Air Museum is one of the best day trips from Vegas. Also, it’s a wonderful place to take amazing photos and a convenient stop when visiting Death Valley National Park.

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3 thoughts on “Unique Day Trips From Vegas – Goldwell Open Air Museum
  1. You’re most welcome, Audrey. There’s a lot more of Nevada that I have yet to explore, such as most of US 50!

  2. I believe one of the most obvious attractions has been overlooked here. Less than an hour away to the NW of Las Vegas is the Mt Charleston area, where visitors can ski in the winter and enjoy the mountain forests and scenery all year. There are even bristlecone pines up there–the same kind that live over 4000 years in other areas, such as the White Mountains of California.

    The first time I went to Las Vegas (some 35 years ago), I stopped at a tourist information center to ask about that National Forest area, and after giving me the details, the person giving this information added “we hope you come here again to gamble”. Not being a gambler, I was happy to see that tourist literature several years later touted “see the OTHER side of Nevada”–referring to parks, scenery, nature, etc. On another trip a few years later, I visited Binion’s Horseshoe to see the $1M display, which no longer exists.

    1. Bob, replies back to you are long overdue! Thank you for adding your personal experiences to the mix! Every time we have Visited Vegas we have never left the strip. There is a glorious natural world that lies just beyond, and we really need to explore it. Great insider tip. Thank you!

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