I’m not sure if The Neon Museum is the right name for this place. Maybe it should be The History of Las Vegas Through Illuminated Signs Museum, but that’s a little wordy. The property is home to a collection of more than 150 signs from hotels, casinos, restaurants, clubs, and other businesses.
Some of the properties no longer exist and some just have new signs now. Visitors are given guided tours through the collection, and stories are shared about each property that has donated pieces.
The signs, and parts and pieces of signs, are sitting on the ground in what’s called the boneyard.
As you walk through the yard with the signs at eye level, you can see the detail of construction and the way the lights were arranged.
There’s usually a mix of incandescent lighting and neon. A few of the signs have been restored to shine as brightly as ever.
The office for the museum is made from the restored and relocated shell of La Concha Motel which was designed by architect Paul Williams.
The sign from La Concha is one of the few restored and illuminated ones in the boneyard.
Some of the older signs were built with protruding metal rods which were standard pipe cut to the same length. Those rods were used by workers who climbed them when lights needed to be replaced.
The tubes used for neon lights are powder coated on the inner surface in different colors to produce different hues of illumination.
The yellow tubes on the Agave sign actually displayed a green light.
The neon duck, donated from a car wash, was one of the most complex neon designs. Metal edges were used around neon tubes that were intended to delineate lines. Other areas were not edged where the light from the neon was allowed to flood the shape. In addition to the details of the edging, this sign is also two-sided making it an expensive piece.
Just outside of The Neon Museum, Las Vegas Boulevard is part of the Scenic Byways project where more restored signs can be seen along the street. This is the only example of a scenic byway that’s not a piece of natural scenery. It was nice to take some time to wander through a bit of the past in a city that’s usually focused on the newest thing to be built.