Celebrate Mid-Century Cool During Historic Preservation Month

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It may not be an occasion you’ll find noted on those cute puppy calendars that somehow still get sold at mall kiosks despite the fact that no one has used a wall calendar since William Jefferson Clinton was still Bubba-In-Chief, but May is Historic Preservation Month, and if you were fretting over just what you were going to do to celebrate it, fret no longer—the Nevada Preservation Foundation has done all the party planning for you.

NPF’s lineup of events throughout the month of May—all happening right here in Downtown Las Vegas—offers an array of speakers, discussions and film screenings that will delight those of us who geek out over architecture and design, especially that of the modernist variety. The bulk of the events fall under the banner of “MCM Inside/Out”—that’s Mid-Century Modern for the acronym challenged—and will feature designers, architects and artists exploring different aspects of that timelessly cool style associated with Las Vegas’ first boom during the 1950s and early 1960s.

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Festivities kick off May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Historic Fifth Street School (401 S. Fourth St.) with Ken McCown, director of UNLV’s Downtown Design Center, who will examine the pioneering work of Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra. Subsequent entries in the series include Ken Wolfson of Ken Wolfson Design talking about the Bauhaus influence on Mid-Century Modern interior design on May 15 at the historic Morelli House (861 E. Bridger Ave.), a screening of the film documentary Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman on May 22 at the Fifth Street School, hosted by Heather Protz, professor of photography at the College of Southern Nevada, and an intriguing-sounding discussion called “Brutalism: The Misunderstood Bulk” on May 28, also at the Fifth Street School, led by architect Jeff Wagner of [N]Site Studios.

One Historic Preservation Month that falls outside of the “MCM Inside/Out” speaker series is a panel discussion called “The Mid-Century Home” on May 20 at the Neon Museum (770 Las Vegas Blvd. N.). It’s a triple-whammy of an event, because that date is also Mid-Century Architecture Day in Nevada (seriously, that’s a thing, thanks to a Joint Resolution passed in 2013, not surprisingly co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, NPF’s executive director) and the birthday of Betty Willis, designer of the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.

Admission to all of these events are free, but space is limited, so if you want to get your Mid-Mod on in true preservation party style, you’ll want to register in advance online at the NPF website.

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