The Neon Museum
by Wendy VanHatten
Lights are everywhere in Las Vegas. This is especially true at the Neon Museum, where a phenomenal collection of iconic Las Vegas signs is on display.
Founded in 1996, this non-profit organization collections, preserves, studies, and exhibits these amazing signs. The Neon Museum Boneyard is where we took our tour.
First stop, the Neon Museum Visitors’ Center, which is located inside the historic La Concha Motel lobby. This distinctive shell-shaped building was designed by acclaimed architect Paul Revere Williams. The curvilinear La Concha Motel lobby is a striking example of Mid-Century modern design characterized by Atomic- and Space Age shapes and motifs. Originally constructed in 1961 on Las Vegas Boulevard South (next to the Riviera Hotel), the La Concha lobby was saved from demolition in 2005 and moved in 2006 to its current location to serve as the Museum’s Visitors’ Center. References to many of the lobby’s original interior design elements have been included in the newly refurbished facility, with two of the motel’s original signs – the mosaic lobby sign and a section of the main roadside sign – restored and illuminated as part of the Museum’s rehabilitation efforts.
On to the Boneyard. Over 200 unrestored signs live here. Since we wanted to see the full effect, our tour was the sunset one. With everything being lit up, it was quite the spectacle. Signs I remember from being here as a kid sat along those more modern ones.
We learned stories about signs, learned their historical importance, heard about the personalities who created them, and the role each of these played in Vegas history. Not all signs were actual neon signs. Some had other lights or were powered by something other than neon.
This is definitely worth a stop. My personal recommendation would be to go at night to get the whole effect.
If You Go: The Neon Museum is located at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North. For tickets and special events info check out https://secure.neonmuseum.org/events