The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

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The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

Isaac Brekken, AP

Miles from the glitz, glamour and flashing lights of Las Vegas lies the Neon Boneyard, where neon signs saved from the trash heap go to cash in their chips.

In a city known for being all about stimulation, competition and overabundance, the Neon Graveyard is the other side of the coin. The dusty, three-acre lot is really just a gravel field filled with dead casino marquees, unlit wedding chapel signs, and bygone used car placards.

The neon dinosaurs may have expired from classic Sin City sights, but the old Vegas relics are not forgotten. Since 1996 a team of volunteers has worked to restore the signs, assembling an outdoor "gallery" featuring 10 iconic signs installed along the east end of Fremont Street.

The Neon Boneyard itself has remained a pop culture treasure. Over 150 signs are scattered around the property like alphabet soup, making a great photo opportunity for newlywed couples or history lesson for Vegas visitors: this is where some signs from the prohibition-era and classic imploded casinos are kept, as well as the letters from the first integrated casino, the Moulin Rouge.

Over the past 15 years, the Boneyard has been tucked away from the general public, only viewable twice daily through tours that had to be reserved up to two-weeks in advance.


Recently, people behind the Neon Boneyard announced plans to expand the museum by taking over the historic La Concha Motel lobby, which will act as a visitor's center. The growth will allow the Neon Museum to expand its public hours and offices.

The La Concha Motel, a 1960's curvilinear structure designed by celebrated African American architect Paul Revere Williams, is on the City of Las Vegas Historic Register. The iconic hotel almost fell victim to a bulldozer in 2003, until preservationists swept in and moved the hotel to its new location.

The Associated Press reports the museum has since begun arranging the vintage pieces of plexiglass, steel and fluorescent by era, presenting a chronological narrative. The new museum is expected to open December 2011.

The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

Isaac Brekken, AP



The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

Isaac Brekken, AP



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