Las Vegas’ unique Neon Museum will throw open the doors to its Visitors Center on Oct. 27 in an event years in the making.
Neon signs, introduced in Las Vegas in 1929 at the Oasis Café on Fremont Street, enjoyed their heyday between the 1930s – 1980s. But as LED and LCD screens began taking over the Las Vegas Strip, many of the old signs were removed. About 20 years ago people from the Allied Arts Council and Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO), the manufacturer responsible for creating a number of the city’s neon pieces, began collecting and preserving the old signs.
The Neon Museum was officially established in 1996, the city allocated space in downtown on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard for the Neon Boneyard. YESCO then donated its retired signs to the fledgling organization. About 40 percent of the Neon Museum’s collection originated there, and items from newly imploded or remodeled properties are added continually.
While the Boneyard had an established downtown location, there was no visitors center. Guests wanting to tour the signs needed to make an appointment weeks in advance and then meet the tour guide at the boneyard.
That all changes Oct. 27 with the opening of the Neon Museum’s Visitors Center. The new visitors center will be located adjacent to the curated collection of signs at the boneyard. The center will be in the rehabilitated La Concha Motel lobby, the seashell-shaped, Mid-Century Modern building designed and built by architect Paul Revere Williams. The La Concha used to be located on the Las Vegas Strip next to t
he Riviera. It was saved from demolition in 2005 and relocated to the Boneyard to become the new visitors center.
“Visitors from around the world have been eagerly anticipating the Neon Museum’s opening for many years, so it gives us tremendous pleasure to be able to unveil this remarkable and historic collection to the public,” said Danielle Kelly, executive director, Neon Museum. “Our goal is to give guests an enhanced appreciation for Las Vegas’ rich visual culture while celebrating the beauty and craftsmanship of a distinctly modern art form.”
The visitors center will be open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tours of the Neon Boneyard, which last approximately 45 minutes, will be held every 30 minutes beginning at 10 a.m. Monday – Saturday. The last tour departs at 4 p.m.
Tickets will be $18 for adults; $12 for students with valid ID, senior citizens, veterans and Nevada residents. Children ages 6 and under are free. While you no longer have to call and make a reservation for a tour, space on the tours is limited. If you want to tour the boneyard at a specific time, it’s suggested you buy tickets in advance through the Neon Museum’s website at www.NeonMuseum.org.
In addition to the Neon Museum and Boneyard, you can see restored neon signs on display both in downtown Las Vegas and on Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara and Washington Avenues. Neon signs installed on Las Vegas Boulevard include the Silver Slipper, the Bow & Arrow Motel, Binion’s Horseshoe, Society Cleaners, the Lucky Cuss Hotel, the Normandy Hotel and the Hacienda Horse and Rider.
Signs displayed in downtown Las Vegas are found on Fremont Street at Las Vegas Bouleveard and west toward Third Street. On display here are Aladdin’s Lamp, The Flame Restaurant, the Chief Court Motel, Andy Anderson, The Red Barn, Wedding Information, the Nevada Motel and Dots Flowers.