A Las Vegas museum's collection of electric signs pays homage to the city's most iconic art form.
Their lights may have dimmed, but the colorful old signs at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas are still telling wild stories. The 1955 sign from the Moulin Rouge, Las Vegas’s first integrated hotel-casino, recalls the days when even A-listers like Sammy Davis Jr. could perform but not stay at Strip hotels. The space-agey letters from the 1958 Stardust sign pay homage to an era when Las Vegans clinked martini glasses to toast the glow of atomic bombs detonated in the Mojave Desert.
Sin City’s stranger-than-fiction history is etched in the hand-bent tubes and burned-out bulbs of more than 200 decommissioned signs on view at the museum’s outdoor “boneyard.” On October 27, 2012, a long-awaited indoor space opened with completion of a visitor center built from remains of the Googie-inspired La Concha motel, a beloved local landmark. Tours can be booked through the website.
Also part of the Neon Museum is the outdoor Urban Gallery along Las Vegas Boulevard that features nine restored and lighted signs. Are they art or are they kitsch? “The designers weren’t just saying, ‘Let’s create some blaze of light,’ ” says Rob McCoy, the museum’s board chairman. “This is art created with color, art created with light, art created with design.” (702) 387-6366, neonmuseum.org.
This article was first published in March 2012 and updated in October 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.