The cultural collection began to form in 1969 and includes cultural objects from the American Southwest and Mesoamerica. The Pre-Columbian collection was initiated in 1979 with a gift from Dr. Michael C. and Mannetta Braunstein. Today, the museum's holdings include the Dr. Michael C. and Mannetta Braunstein Collection, a comprehensive collection of Pre-Columbian objects from nearly every culture of Pre-Columbian Latin America, as well as Mexican dance masks and retablos; Guatemalan, Bolivian, and Navajo textiles; Paiute and Hopi basketry; and Navajo jewelry. A variety of methodologies have been used at different times to collect, classify, analyze, and describe collection material, and the collections provide rich primary source information for multi-, cross-, and interdisciplinary studies. The Museum is compliant with guidelines mandates by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
In 2012 the Las Vegas Art Museum collection moved to the newly renovated Barrick Museum, as part of a partnership between LVAM and UNLV. Works in the collection include works by national and international artists such as Llyn Foulkes and William T. Wiley, as well as a significant representation of UNLV graduates.
The Barrick Museum houses the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel 50x50 Collection. In 2010, UNLV was the recipient of 50 contemporary works from the celebrated collectors. Beginning in 1962, New York postal clerk, Herbert Vogel, and his librarian wife, Dorothy, began collecting contemporary works of art. The couple dedicated all of Herb's salary to buying art, and in a few decades had amassed a collection encompassing some 4,000 works. Today, these works form one of the most remarkable collections of contemporary art in America. Motivated by the desire to share their collection with the public, the couple developed a program to gift 50 works to one institution in each of the 50 states, including UNLV. This program became known as Vogel 50x50. The collection includes the work by such notables as Stephen Antonakos, Neil Jenney, Lynda Benglis, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Bettina Werner and Richard Tuttle.