Each afternoon, as I gaze into the mirror while getting ready for the day, I try and imagine that at least some of my physical characteristics are in line with male models on the cover of GQ. The sobering reality is that I probably share more characteristics with the common moth. For, as long as I can remember, I’ve been uncontrollably attracted to all things that illuminate.
Fittingly, I’ve longed to visit The Neon Museum in Las Vegas for many years. Formerly referred to as, “The Neon Boneyard,” and in an entirely different location, The Neon Museum pays tribute to Las Vegas’ flashy past, present, and future by preserving the signs of yesterday. While most of them are on display as-is in an inoperable state, there are four signs that have been restored to actually illuminate at night. There are also a few other signs under the museum’s umbrella that have been restored and are operable at various locations in the downtown area.
Signs large and small grace the yard at The Neon Museum. The walking tour, led by a guide, lasts for one hour.
Because of my schedule, I chose to tour the museum during the daylight hours. The signs are still quite impressive under the sun, as the structural work that took to create many of them is quite remarkable. The sheet metal work, hand-painted accents, and neon tube bending on many of the signs is a fine example of a type of craftsmanship that is dying in an age of LED video boards and vinyl-cutter graphics.
If you enjoy photographing bold colors and detailed textures, this is the tour for you! Be aware, however, that the museum is very protective of its property rights, and imposes a lot of restrictions on the usage of images you take while on the premises. Of course, you can book the museum for a private shoot free from these restrictions, albeit for a significant hourly fee. You can check out The Neon Museum’s web site for all this information, along with being able to purchase a ticket for your tour the next time you’re in town.
Mitch stops to tell us about this giant pool player, who originally was built to be unpainted (his metal shirt was cut and welded to resemble flannel). When he made it to Vegas, however, his owners decided he needed to be livened up, so they painted him, including palm trees on his shirt! He’s now said to be the only guy in Vegas wearing a long-sleeved Hawaiian shirt.
I’m not sure what it says about my age when there’s museum pieces that I actually remember being in operation! This massive fiberglass pirate skull from the former Treasure Island (now re-branded as “T.I.”) graced the Las Vegas strip as recently as the mid-2000′s.