The Neon Museum Las Vegas

January 22, 2011

The Neon Museum of Las Vegas is a massive project. We all collect “things” but…hey a 70 foot tall sign? Some far sighted persons from the Allied Arts Council realized that a colorful part of Las Vegas history was being destroyed as the city changed.

Much work and money has gone into gathering signs, permissions, a “boneyard” in which to store them, restoration, and creating, for thee and me, a public outdoor gallery of neon signs. The City leased land at $1 a year for this massive park, boneyard and museum. The newly erected sign above has letters from four different casinos. Below that sign, sits a beautifully done park, which will open  later this year. It contains cement structures with brass placques  to hold various pieces of signage. What an idea. An outdoor museum, that lights up at night and is also beautiful by day.

My “Bucket List” will get me back here to see it when its open. Definitely worth a second visit to see the changes.
The current boneyard tour, where unrestored signs lay in wait, is a phenomenal walk through history, and, if you’ve previously visited Vegas, a walk down memory lane as well. Photos are allowed for personal use only, but we were granted some stock photos to use.

You can see what a jumble the boneyard is. But, the letter H, as in Hacienda,  or maybe Horizon Club. Fancy and colorful then and will be again someday. (stock photo)

How does that compare to the letters in this casino? Boring graphics by comparison. But, that is the future. In fact, When Binnions changed their signage, from fancy neon lettering to a “newspaper” typeface, thousands of complaints came in about it.

Here you can see parts of the Stardust sparkles and Aladdins lamp, and Horse Shoe in the background. (stock photo)
The tour guide we had was terrific. He told us a lot of interesting history and little known stuff about the signs. This restored slipper, which has been erected on the street side of the boneyard is 14 feet tall under the arch and has 700 light bulbs. Its made of steel and sheet metal, weighs 2 tons and it sparkles by turning on and off the lights. Wow! Maybe you remember the Silver Slipper Casino?

The boneyard has a rescued building as well that will eventually be a visitors center. Its a very modern type of Googie architecture by Paul Revere Williams designed to resemble a conch shell. It will be completed later this year as well. Soaring thin poured concrete arches. Unique. I can’t wait to see the finished results this fall. But, don’t wait. See them now. The Neon Museum is a 501(c) 3 organization; it has a mob of volunteers who work very hard to get funding to restore this very expensive signage.
Have a peek at what they’ve already accomplished: (stock photos.)

Neon may no longer be as popular as it once was, but Vegas did it best. And, when the 170 signs they have stored are up and posed around town, on Cultural Way, Las Vegas Blvd. and Fremont Street and elsewhere, it will be a glittering and exciting part of a unique city. (These three signs are already part of the Public Gallery on Fremont St.) Las Vegas Blvd., by the way, is the only street designated as a National Historic Treasure.

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