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New Exhibit to Explore The French Connection in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a long history of production shows featuring dancers and showgirls. This type of show with its glamorous costumes and spectacular sets saw the showgirl evolve from a ubiquitous performer to an icon. But where did it all begin? A new exhibit in Lied Library will explore the origins of these spectacular shows and the dancers and showgirls that came with them — all the way from Paris, France.

Photo credit: Folies Bergère program, 1962, from the collection of Las Vegas Show Programs, MS-00333, UNLV University Libraries Special Collections Department

In 1958 Lido de Paris opened at the Stardust Hotel and Folies Bergère followed in 1959 at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. Both productions had long been famous in their native Paris, and all sets and costumes were fully imported from France for the Las Vegas editions. These productions lent an air of sophistication to Las Vegas and were wildly successful with both shows running for decades. They also ushered in the use of large-scale production shows as an essential attraction in Las Vegas casinos and helped define the showgirl for years to come.

French Connection: Lido de Paris and Folies Bergère in Las Vegas will explore the history of the French revue while focusing on the continued influence that France had on the shows after they were imported to Las Vegas. The exhibit will feature costume and set designs, programs, and photographs of these productions drawn from papers in UNLV University Libraries Special Collections, which documents the history of Las Vegas entertainment as part of its mission to support researchers in the interdisciplinary study of our region. Also on display will be original costume pieces from the Tropicana Hotel’s Folies Bergère loaned by the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas. The exhibit, curated by Special Collections Librarian, Karla Irwin, will connect students and visitors to a unique aspect of Las Vegas entertainment history and showcase the rich holdings of the University Libraries.

The exhibit will be on display on the first floor of Lied Library from May through October 2015.

For more information contact Karla Irwin, Special Collections Librarian.