With more than 150 neon signs dating back to the 1930’s, the Neon Museum opened its doors to the public in 2012, heralding the largest collection of neon signage in the world. Most of the Museum’s exhibits are so large that they have to be housed outdoors. In addition to a two-acre outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard, the museum also encompasses a visitor’s center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby (the seashell-shaped, Mid-Century Modern architecture designed and built by architect Paul Revere Williams in ’61 on the Strip next to the Riviera originally. It is that very La Concha lobby that was saved from demolition in 2005 and moved to its current location in downtown Las Vegas in 2006, which now houses the museum’s visitor’s center.
Signs include: The Green Shack, the oldest and one of the smallest signs, which identified a small roadhouse that was the last place out of town heading toward Hoover Dam, and the first place coming back; The Moulin Rouge, which was the first integrated resort in Las Vegas (Betty Willis, the designer of the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, designed it); plus the Desert Inn, the Flamingo, the Stardust, the Sahara, the Frontier and Fitzgerald’s, which are only a sampling of the world-famous signs displayed.
According to Bill Marion, chair, Neon Museum’s Board of Trustees, the museum’s official opening brings both a significant cultural and economic impact to the community. “There is renewed interest in ‘old’ Las Vegas and in the rediscovery of the historical downtown area. The Neon Museum will play a major role in this renaissance, by bringing new visitors to downtown Las Vegas, by creating additional opportunities for tourism growth, and by adding to the ongoing economic revitalization of the area,” says Marion. “We have reinvented the city several times, blowing up the old buildings and replacing them with hotels that are bigger, more contemporary and more modern. The signs in the museum are the only remaining remnants of truly historic properties, with stories that long to be told and deserve to be remembered.” Marion adds: “I think the period of the seventies are my favorites. The signs were massive, colorful, bold and imaginative. They weren’t designed for realism; in fact, it may have been the opposite. They were designed to enchant and to lure. They were vibrant and luminescent, like neon impressionism.”
The Neon Museum has partnered with the City of Las Vegas to create the Las Vegas Signs Project, where restored signs from the collection owned by the museum have been installed on Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara and Washington Avenues. On display across the stretch of what has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation, are 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 are there. There are nine restored signs installed throughout the downtown area. These signs include Aladdin’s Lamp, The Flame Restaurant, the Chief Court Motel, Andy Anderson, The Red Barn, Wedding Information, the Nevada Motel and Dots Flowers. This Downtown Gallery, featuring 16 electrified signs, is available for viewing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you’re interested in the history of Vegas, or for those who are looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience, this may be a good place to visit. Tours of the Neon Boneyard will last about 45 minutes. Since its opening, over the past couple of years, many couples have chosen to use the Neon Museum as a unique backdrop to taking their nuptials - with the location making a great spot for wedding photos.
Before You Visit, Please Be Advised:
Advanced ticket sales only. No walk-in sales.
Tickets are available for purchase online only.
There are no restroom facilities onsite at Boneyard.
No backpacks, camera bags, large bags or tripods are allowed on tours.
They recommend visitors wear close-toed shoes.
Tours are guided and visitors must remain with their guide. The yard contains broken glass and rusty metal. Visitors are advised to be aware of their surroundings at all times for their safety and the safety of the collection.
ANYONE FAILING TO FOLLOW GUIDELINES WILL KINDLY BE ASKED TO LEAVE.