Museum Month: The Neon Museum In Las Vegas, Nevada

When the plug is pulled at casinos, chapels, restaurants and other businesses, Sin City’s iconic art form – the neon sign – used to get sent to the scrapyard. That was until The Neon Museum, a 501c3 non-profit, began collecting and preserving these timeworn signs, ensuring the treasures won’t be forgotten.

Since 1996, volunteers have devoted their time to preserving the legacy of the disregarded signs of Las Vegas, keeping them in a dusty, three-acre lot dubbed the “Neon Boneyard.” Wander around and find dead casino marquees, unlit wedding chapel signs and bygone used car billboards scattered about like noodles in alphabet soup.

%Gallery-154843%Not only is the Neon Boneyard full of cool visuals, it also illuminates a side of Las Vegas history that many people wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see. For now, travelers must make an appointment in advance in order to visit the Neon Boneyard. However, there are plans to open a bona fide visitor’s center in what was once the lobby of the La Concha Motel, a 1960’s curvilinear structure that almost fell victim to a bulldozer in 2003 until preservationists swept in and relocated the lobby to the Boneyard.

The team has worked to assemble an outdoor “gallery” of restored signs along the east end of Fremont Street, where visitors can check out nine once forgotten signs that have been restored to blinking glory. That gallery, which includes a lamp-shaped sign originally installed in 1966 at the Aladdin Hotel, is available free to the public 24 hours per day.

Las Vegas’ Neon Boneyard to open museum and public park this year

Have you ever wondered where Las Vegas‘ famed flashing marquees go to die? It’s no ordinary graveyard. The self-described “Neon Boneyard” of Las Vegas is a little-known spot housing memorablia from imploded casinos, soon to become a museum and public park.

First opened in 1996, the Neon Museum is a nonprofit organization whose missiom is to to “collect, preserve, study and exhibit neon signs and associated artifacts to inspire educational and cultural enrichment for diverse members of our international community.”

Just finding the Boneyard requires some planning, it’s about a $20 cab ride past the pawn shops, mini malls, and clubs of Girls, Girls, Girls.

Don’t expect everything to be aglitter when you arrive … this isn’t The Strip. The signs are unlit, many showing the dusty patina of age. (Naturally, this will change when the museum opens.)

But that doesn’t stop curious visitors – and many a just-married couple – from snapping photos in front of their favorite wedding chapel sign. “Old Timers” will also enjoy the relics – marquees from casinos long imploded to make room for new megoliths, a collection of historic Freemont street memorabilia and even a few culturally significant donations. One of the Boneyard’s highlights is relics the genie lamp from the hotel where Elvis married Priscilla Ann Wagner.

Another Peek: See what one of our Gadling staffers thought about the museum on a recent trip.

The Neon Museum is rehabilitating the historic La Concha Motel lobby for use as its Visitors Cente. La Concha, which was dismantled and moved to the “Boneyard” for use, is a large shell-like structure. It was designed by famed African-American architect Paul Revere Williams. Several active signs throughout Las Vegas have also been pledged to the museum once they’re retired.

As reported in AOL Travel, the three-acre lot currently open by appointment only. Tickets, which must be reserved two weeks in advance for the twice-daily tour, cost $15. The museum’s new admission structure has yet to be announced, but is likely to be much more accessible.

[Flickr via S.MiRK]