Have you ever heard of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas? I hadn’t until I stumbled upon it while browsing which Las Vegas show we should see. “Neon Museum” sounded interesting – the final resting place for old neon signs.
It didn’t occur to me that the only museum/exhibition or even show to book days in advance was: The Neon Museum! By the time we checked online, the next available booking was for a tour 4 days away. We called the concierge hoping that maybe they had a some special access to tickets and after a while they called back with the information that there was a small amount of same day tickets reserved for walk-ins. We didn’t hesitate. We jumped in a taxi, headed to Downtown Las Vegas and managed to snag two tickets for the last tour of the day.
The Neon Museum is also known as The Neon Boneyard. It is located in the Downtown Las Vegas on Las Vegas Boulevard, only a short walk from the famous Fremont Street. The museum is much smaller than I imagined and much more organized. There are clear walkways with rows of signs on both sides. For safety reasons, we weren’t allowed to freely wander around and had to be within sight of the guide at all times. Some of the stops along the tour (because of the history and stories told) where too long, some too short. I guess that is just what happens during tours. I wished we could explore on our own. The walking tour (there were 8 other people) lasted just over an hour and was led by a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable local woman. She was very excited and upbeat the entire time and not only shared lots of information and anecdotes about the neon signs we happened to be standing next to but also general history and development of Las Vegas. I found it fascinating that so many local people put in so much effort and were so passionate about to preserving this bit of Las Vegas’ history. An interesting fact our guide told us was that if you check out the museum on Google Earth you can easily spot the skull from Treasure Island. And it will be looking straight at you. And it does – I checked.
The oldest sign on the site was from 1929. It belonged to a small restaurant called Green Shack, which only served fired chicken and finally closed down in 1999. There are almost 200 signs (most of them unrestored) at the museum. Some of the most famous sings are restored and illuminated. All signs were made of metal and hand painted.
Originals signs of places like the Treasure Island, the Stardust, Moulin Rouge Hotel and the Sahara, places which Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack visited whenever they were in town.
The museum is a tribute to the great past of Las Vegas. There is so much history there. The museum is clearly popular as you have to book in advance for tours, private photo shoots and events. People even get married there!
I would love to see it during the day, preferably in the late afternoon (it is crazy hot out there) with all the colour and detail fully lit. If you are planning to visit (and you should) book in advance.
After the visit we started paying more attention to signs around town.
If I ever swing by Las Vegas again I will make sure to drop in for a day tour.
The Neon Museum
770 North Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Addmission: $18 for a day tour, $25 for night tour