Neon Museum

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Neon Museum
Neon Museum logo.png
Established 1996
(general admission started October 27, 2012 (2012-10-27))
Location Las Vegas, Nevada
Coordinates 36°10′39.64″N 115°8′12.92″W / 36.1776778°N 115.1369222°W / 36.1776778; -115.1369222
Type Art museum
Visitors 85,000 (2015)[1]
Website neonmuseum.org

The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, features signs from old casinos and other businesses displayed outdoors on over 6 acres (2.4 ha).[2] The museum features a restored lobby shell from the defunct La Concha Motel as its visitor center, which officially opened on October 27, 2012.[3]

For many years, the Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) stored many of these old signs in their "boneyard." The signs were slowly being destroyed by exposure to the elements.

The signs are considered by Las Vegas locals, business owners and government organizations to be not only artistically, but also historically, significant to the culture of the city. Each of the restored signs in the collection holds a story about who created it and why it is important.[4]

History[edit]

The Neon Museum was founded in 1996 as a partnership between the Allied Arts Council of Southern Nevada and the City of Las Vegas. Today, it is an independent non-profit. Located on Las Vegas Boulevard and Bonanza, the Neon Museum includes the new Neon Boneyard Park, which is adjacent to the former YESCO Boneyard.

The impetus behind the museum was the loss of the iconic sign from The Sands; after it closed in 1995, there was no place to store the massive sign, and it was scrapped.[5] To mark its official opening in November 1996, the Neon Museum restored and installed the Hacienda Horse & Rider sign at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street.[1] However, access to the collection was provided by appointment only.[6] Annual attendance was approximately 12–20,000 during this time.[7][8]

In 2005, the historic La Concha lobby was donated to the museum, which moved and reassembled the building 4 miles (6.4 km) north along Las Vegas Boulevard after cutting it into eight pieces. It now serves as the museum's visitors' center and headquarters.[9] Although it cost nearly $3 million to move and restore the La Concha, the plans to open a museum became concrete after the donation of the building, drawing a number of public and private grants and donations.[9] In total, approximately $6.5 million was raised for the visitors' center, headquarters, a new park, and restoration of 15 major signs.[7]

During 2009, the museum took in the sign from the Moulin Rouge Hotel.[10] In November 2009, the Neon Museum restored and installed the famous Silver Slipper sign across from its welcome center, and two more restored vintage signs were installed near the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard to mark its designation as a National Scenic Byway.[11] Those three restored signs are now part of a self-guided tour of eleven restored signs which lie mostly along The Strip.[12]

In 2010, the City of Las Vegas began construction of the Neon Boneyard Park near the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and McWilliams Avenue. The former YESCO Boneyard comprised two lots that straddled McWilliams, just east of the new Neon Boneyard Park. Part of the YESCO Boneyard was paved to create parking for the new park.[6] An original 80-foot (24 m) tall sign from the Sahara was donated in 2011.[13]

Paid public admission commenced on October 27, 2012, replacing the prior appointment-only basis.[9] Although the museum was 12 mile (0.80 km) north of the main tourist attraction at the Fremont Street Experience, officials touted the potential draw from sixteen restored neon signs the museum had already erected around Fremont Street.[3] Attendance during the first year was 60,461, exceeding the early estimate of 45–50,000 visitors.[14]

After outgrowing its space in the former La Concha lobby shell, the museum moved its headquarters to old City Hall in 2016 and converted the offices into a gift shop.[15] In 2017, the museum purchased land for its first expansion since opening to the public in 2012.[16] For its fifth anniversary, the Neon Museum offered free admission on October 28, 2017.[17]

Exhibits[edit]

The Neon Museum is located on Las Vegas Boulevard and Bonanza Road, across the street from Cashman Center and along the Las Vegas downtown museum corridor. The museum has exhibits in three main areas: restored and installed neon signs in both the Fremont Street area and along the Las Vegas Strip; and in the Neon Boneyard.

Restored signs[edit]

"The Flame" sign displayed in the plaza next to Neonopolis
Horse and rider from the Hacienda Resort
Restored signs in Downtown Las Vegas

The Neon Museum maintains several restored signs throughout Downtown Las Vegas and along the Las Vegas Strip.[12] The cost of restoring signs is estimated to range from $10,000 for small pieces to $100,000 for the largest signs.[18]

Boneyard[edit]

The boneyard preserves over 150 neon signs from the Nevada area. While the core of the collection is from the old Yesco Boneyard, private donations and loans have expanded the collection to the current size.

A new sign (lit with light-emitting diodes) for the new Neon Boneyard Park was installed in 2012, with "NEON" spelled out using letters shaped like those on signs for the Golden Nugget ("N"), Caesars Palace ("E"), Binion's Horseshoe ("O"), and Desert Inn ("N").[6] The letters are set on a grid inspired by the sign for The Sands, and the sign is decorated with stars like those from the Stardust and a starburst like the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign designed by Betty Willis.[19]

Pieces in the boneyard include signage from the Moulin Rouge Hotel, the Stardust, Desert Inn and Caesars Palace as well as many others. The museum also houses fiberglass sculptures including a giant skull from the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino among others.

Two cats, named Elvis and Liberace (after signs for the Frontier, where Elvis played his first show in Las Vegas; and the Liberace Museum, respectively) live in the Boneyard.[5] Tours are led by volunteer docents and last approximately one hour, with groups limited to 20 and starting every half hour.

In 2018, the Neon Museum began Brilliant!, a 30-minute night show designed by Craig Winslow which uses multiple projectors to reanimate defunct signs, set to vintage and contemporary music.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lilly, Caitlin (2 November 2015). "7 things you didn't know about the Neon Museum — PHOTOS". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  2. ^ Bass, Shermakaye (2007-06-06). "Neon Museum saving Las Vegas' iconic signs". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  3. ^ a b O'Reilley, Tim (August 31, 2012). "Lights this way: Neon Museum opening set". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  4. ^ http://www.neonmuseum.org/about
  5. ^ a b Gotthardt, Alexxa (14 December 2016). "A Treasure Trove of Historic Neon Signs Is Nestled on Las Vegas Boulevard". Artsy. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c Finnegan, Amanda (6 February 2010). "City to begin construction on Neon Boneyard Park". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  7. ^ a b Rothstein, Edward (1 February 2013). "Where Las Vegas Stardust Rests in Peace". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  8. ^ Cling, Carol (25 October 2012). "Neon Museum preserving Las Vegas history bygiving old signs new life". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c Pratt, Timothy (27 October 2012). "New Museum Shows Off Las Vegas's Neon Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  10. ^ Munks, Jamie (22 April 2018). "Remnants remain, but future of Las Vegas' Moulin Rouge in limbo". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  11. ^ Toplikar, Dave (9 November 2009). "Refurbished signs a step forward in preserving Las Vegas' past". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  12. ^ a b "Restored Las Vegas Neon Signs Tour" (PDF). The Neon Museum. 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  13. ^ "Sahara in Vegas donates sign to museum". Associated Press. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  14. ^ Morrison, Jane Ann (6 March 2014). "Neon Museum meets visitor projection in its first year — more than 60,000". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  15. ^ Wargo, Buck (7 October 2016). "Neon Museum unveils first stage of expansion plans". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  16. ^ Lilly, Caitlin (16 February 2017). "Neon Museum receives $425K grant for major expansion". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  17. ^ Jones, Jay (25 October 2017). "Las Vegas' Neon Museum marks five years and wants you to visit — for free". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  18. ^ Reilly, Claire. "Neon Museum is saving Las Vegas' most beautiful tech". c|net. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  19. ^ Oñoz-Wright, Ashley (18 November 2015). "10 of our favorite signs at the Neon Museum". vegas.com [blog]. Remark Media. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 
  20. ^ Reed, C. Moon (8 February 2018). "The Neon Museum's 'Brilliant!' makes classic signs shine again". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved 29 June 2018. 

External links[edit]