The Neon Museum NV
The Neon Museum NV is a museum with a mission to preserve, restore and educate the public about neon signs. The museum’s collection of more than 150 antique, rare and one-of-a-kind signs features iconic Las Vegas signage from early roadside businesses like the Pioneer Club to classic casino marquees such as Caesar’s Palace and Stardust. Visitors will learn about how these beautiful pieces were made, their cultural significance in Las Vegas’ history and what they mean for future generations. There is also an art gallery which displays contemporary works created using neon light techniques.
The Neon Museum NV was founded by artist Robert Wilson who had a personal interest in preserving historic neon signs because he felt that “the form itself would not survive without its cultural context.” The museum was opened to the public on February 14, 1996. The Neon Museum started in three vacant downtown Las Vegas buildings owned by businessman and philanthropist Michael Huffington who provided $2 million for the restoration of signs along with land for a new facility. The museum’s collection has since grown from its original 90 signs and includes some of the most iconic neon advertising images in American culture including The Dunes sign which had originally read “America’s Finest Dry-Cleaners” until it was donated to The Neon Museum in 2008. The sign is still believed to be one of the largest ever made at 28 feet high and 60 feet long.
The neon lettering “Welcome to Fabulous Downtown” remains as part of The Neon Museum’s entrance signage The rest of The Neon Museum’s collection is now housed in a former bus depot on the corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard. The three-level museum features an open design with sign display corridors that allow visitors to walk through several blocks of historic signs at their own pace. The first floor features a gallery for rotating art exhibits including The Neon Boneyard Project, a “living collection” The second level is home to The Learning Center where guests can watch videos about the history of neon and see restored antique signage in action The third floor has an outdoor gallery space where The Neon Museum shines new light on classics like old casino marquees and traditional motel signage to create one-of-a view night experiences .
The Las Vegas Weekly named The Neon Museum’s The Boneyard as one of their “Best Free Things to Do in Las Vegas” The Neon Museum’s collection is growing with donations from individuals and local businesses. The museum also welcomes contributions from companies, organizations and private owners who may be interested in permanently donating or loaning their neon signs after they have been retired. The sign owners retain ownership rights even if the signs are on display at The Neon Museum NV.
The Neon Museum works closely with other groups and artists such as Tony Longson who created a street art installation along Fremont Street entitled the “Neon Walk of Fame.” The tunnel-like structure features The Neon Museum’s restored marquees mounted overhead like constellations.