Vegas News Exclusive: The Neon Museum

“Las Vegas looks the way you’d imagine heaven must look at night,” author Chuck Palahniuk once wrote. But even in the after-life, physical remains must find a final resting place. 

The Neon Museum is the eternal home for over 250 iconic neon signs that once lit up the city’s skyline. 

For over half a century, Las Vegas has been the manifestation of glamour, fantasy, and enchantment. It’s a city where people go to escape the mundanities of everyday life or make their dreams a reality. Despite its unpredictability, there’s always been one constant – and that’s change.

Las Vegas is in a perpetual state of metamorphosis. It’s a never-ending playground of progression, reinvention, and renewal. While this “out with the old, in with the new” mindset has served our city well – ensuring that Las Vegas will always maintain its relevance, we do have a rich history that deserves preservation. 

Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting the most iconic, unique, and significant signs in Las Vegas history. 

There’s no better time to visit this social-distancing friendly activity than now. The experience is perfect for history buffs, families, out-of-town visitors, or for a date night.

The museum offers guided tours for educational, historic and cultural enrichment. They also premiered “Brilliant!” – An Immersive Audiovisual Experience in 2018, it is the largest augmented reality experience of its kind, reanimating 40 iconic vintage signs with projection mapping. 

You are catapulted into a time machine as soon as you walk through The Neon Museums lobby.

Their mid-century lobby and gift shop building was once the lobby for the La Concha Motel which stood at Las Vegas Blvd and Desert Inn between 1961-2004. It is considered one of the best-preserved examples of 1950s futurist architecture. The building was donated to The Neon Museum in 2006.

The lobby building was designed by famed architect Paul Williams. Williams was one of the first prominent African American architects in the U.S. and also designed the Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles County Courthouse, the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and private homes for Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, and Julie London.

The tour guides are charismatic and engaging, they provide obscure facts that are not only historically informative, but they make you feel a little closer to the city. 

The signs at the outdoor exhibition are strategically placed in 4 rows: Downtown Row, Motel Row, Local Business Row, and The Strip. 

Downtown row features original signs from the Golden Nugget, El Cortez, Fitzergalds, the Moulin Rouge – which was designed by the same creator of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, and more.

Motel & Small Business row
The Red Barn was the first openly gay bar in Las Vegas.

Motel Row and Small Business row include some highly stylized famous and obscure relics from Las Vegas history. 

The Strip Row collection includes signs from Strip heavy-hitters such as the Sahara, the Stardust, the Riviera, the Treasure Island Skull, and most recently the Hard Rock Guitar. 

You can visit the Museum for the walking tour, the Brilliant! showing, or do both!

The Neon Museum has taken all of the precautions possible to ensure it is a safe activity for both staff and visitors. Vegas News spoke with Dawn Merritt, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at the Neon Museum, “We cut back the number of people on guided tours, everyone is wearing masks, we are always wiping down surfaces, we’ve added social distancing stickers, and all of our stanchions are already conveniently 6 feet apart.” 

In an effort to welcome fellow locals to The Neon Museum, they are offering a “Pay As You Go” program for anyone with a valid Nevada ID every Tuesday during the month of August! Locals are invited to visit the museum and pay what they can. Whether it’s zero dollars or the full price of a ticket. For the month of August, the museum is also offering 40% off for a year membership to Nevada residents
Visit neonmuseum.org or call (702) 387-6366 to reserve tickets in advance.