Las Vegas Neon Museum: Where Neon Goes to Die
Las Vegas is the highest populated city in the state of Nevada and an internationally renowned major resort city known primarily for gambling, shopping, fine dining and nightlife. The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking of Las Vegas are its bright lights! There's no other place like it in the world; from the decadent hotels, to the slot machines, even the most drab and ordinary liquor store radiates with color!
In the early 1960s, the Renaissance of Neon, Tom Wolfe described Las Vegas as “the only town in the world whose skyline is made up neither of buildings, like New York, nor of trees, like Wilbraham, Massachusetts, but signs.” Many architects have even pointed out that signs might be the most changeable aspect of Las Vegas, but also the most unique and monumental parts of the Strip. Mr. Wolfe also suggested that, "no one buys a sign to fit a building; the building is modified to support the largest possible sign." Signs had to be spectacular because they personified a fantasy being fulfilled. Many of these signs also embodied a dark past; primarily because of there connection to mobsters, who were the first Americans with enough money and power to build the first casinos. Since then a lot has changed in Las Vegas; casinos have come and gone and the contemporary casino has become a sign unto itself, not to mention that LED has completely taken over the dying art of neon.
These historic pieces of art now have a home, a resting place of some sort, called the Neon Boneyard. It's an outdoor museum on Las Vegas Boulevard, located just 15 minutes from the Strip. It’s where Sin City’s signs go to die, don't worry it's not as gruesome as it sounds. Established in 1996, the Neon Museums two-acre boneyard has over 150 donated and rescued signs, many of which are vintage and from the golden era of neon. Even the visitor center is housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby, a neat feature that allows you to step back in time. Due to the nature of their collection, the Neon Museum Boneyard is only available to the public through an hour long guided tour. I opted to go with the night tour because I wanted to see the neon signs in all of their glory. They were an incredible sight to see in person and the guide did an amazing job of teaching about the history of Las Vegas and their signs. I was blown away by the experience and it's now among my favorite things to do whenever visiting "Sin City."
THINGS TO KNOW
- The Neon Museum is located at 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North, just north of Bonanza Road and next to Cashman Field Center.
- Guided tours only! A guide will share unique stories about the personalities who created these pieces, what inspired them, where and when they where made, and the role they played in Las Vegas’ distinctive history.
- Purchase tickets in advance because tours do tend to sell out quickly. Tours are available seven days a week up to a month in advance and tour times vary based on the season.
- Taking photos for personal use is allowed. Still photography for any additional artistic or commercial use is strictly prohibited on tours. Click HERE for information about photo shoots.
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About The Author
In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.