Let’s grow the glow!
I am both honored and humbled to have been selected earlier this year to lead the Neon Museum. As a native Las Vegan, I grew up alongside most of the signs in our collection. It’s one of the reasons I like to refer to them as members of the family. I also have a long history with the museum, having served on its board of directors.
As we look to the future, a number of ambitious and exciting undertakings are in the planning stages, including a third Boneyard, indoor gallery space and a working neon fabrication area where visitors will see firsthand the art of neon sign making. With supportive members and sponsors, we will bring even more magic to one of the most magical places in Las Vegas.
Our commitment to preserving and enhancing this cultural jewel has never been stronger. As we like to say around these parts, it’s time to grow the glow!
Firm develops treatment to protect signs
Las Vegas weather can be tough on our outdoor collection; the lack of rain allows our outdoor museum to exist, grow and thrive, but the intense desert sun and wind wreak havoc on paint and glass.
One of the challenges we face is maintaining the integrity of the signs; we don’t want to alter the color or condition of the paint or metal. To better protect our signs, the Neon Museum has been working with Belfor Property Restoration to develop a treatment that will prevent wind and sun damage.
After working on one of our signs in their Fort Worth, Texas, plant, Belfor successfully developed a treatment that maintains the sign in its current condition. We are working with Belfor to apply the same treatment to all of the signs in our collection, making it possible for visitors to enjoy them for many years to come. Belfor’s U.S. headquarters are at Birmingham, Michigan, with operations in Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe.
Busted! Howard Hughes’ Silver Slipper sign myths
Las Vegas is full of sensational stories that have been immortalized in movies, books and online, but how many of them are factually correct?
One of our most important responsibilities at the Neon Museum is to ensure we are sharing accurate information with our guests. Our team spends a lot of time researching history at local archives, going through images to date our signs and talking with other historians to confirm the stories we present to the public.
One of the most common myths we are asked about regularly relates to the ever-mysterious Howard Hughes. According to local legend, Howard Hughes thought there was a government camera in the Silver Slipper sign, so he bought the casino and filled the shoe with concrete to prevent it from recording him.
Also, light from the sign bothered him so he bought the property when the owners wouldn’t turn it off.
In reality, neither of these myths is true.
A manager from the Silver Slipper shared with Geoff Schumacher, director of content at the Mob Museum, that the room was blacked out so no light could bother him. Also, the Frontier Hotel Casino was bigger and brighter and would’ve been more of a nuisance.
Finally, we have the sign and can confirm with confidence there is no concrete in it. Hughes’ purchase of the Silver Slipper was simply part of his 1966-1970 buying spree.
Wanted: Your help to preserve Neon Boneyard collection!
Sign up today for our Sign Conservation Fund
Donors to the Sign Conservation Fund can take pride in knowing their gifts help the restoration, rehabilitation and preservation efforts that maintain the iconic treasures in the Neon Museum.
The Museum takes great care to determine the best way to maintain each sign’s integrity while not losing the artifact’s original message. Sign conservation strategies vary depending on the need of a particular piece. The Museum always uses qualified experts in their field to perform all needed conservation projects. Here are three levels of conservation efforts that you can influence:
- Full Restoration returns the sign to its original state as much as possible. Fully restoring a sign is costly since it requires updating the electrical components and all neon tubing or glass bulbs. A fully restored sign glimmers and glows in all its original glory.
- Rehabilitation involves resurfacing or repainting the sign’s coloring and topography. Rehabilitation does not include electrical work and is more manageable than a full restoration project.
- Preservation strategies strive to prevent further sun and wind damage to the sign on the outside and remove debilitating debris that could damage the sign from the inside. The entire collection benefits from regularly scheduled preservation upkeep and maintenance.
Your gift to the Neon Museum’s Sign Conservation Fund will help maintain the Neon Boneyard collection for a world of future generations.
Please click here to make your donation today.
The Neon Museum is registered with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office as a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization (Fed Tax ID #88-0383932). Your gift may qualify as a charitable deduction for tax purposes.
Celebrating our ‘Spec-tac-u-lar’ annual fund
- A term used in the neon industry for the largest, most elaborate signs.
- A donor to the Neon Museum’s “Celebrating Spectacular” Annual Fund.
- Your impact on history and preservation of iconic Las Vegas signage
“Celebrating Spectacular” donors are truly spectacular! Their support helps provide educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment to Neon Museum visitors from around the world.
Your unrestricted gift to the Neon Museum’s “Celebrating Spectacular” annual fund celebrates the art form that put the “fabulous” in “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” and the dazzle in the lights of the Strip.
Click here to support the Neon Museum with your gift to the “Celebrating Spectacular” Annual Fund.
The Neon Museum is registered with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office as a
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Fed Tax ID #88-0383932).
Your gift may qualify as a charitable deduction for tax purposes.
Volunteer Glow: Meet docent Bette LaCombe
Volunteers are an integral part of our mission at the Neon Museum. In fact, the museum couldn’t meet the needs of all its visitors and provide them a memorable experience without the assistance of these selfless Las Vegans.
Meet Bette LaCombe, a former New Yorker and IBM employee for 35 years. She’s one of our dedicated volunteers who have supported the museum for many years as a member. You’ll find the LaCombe name on our Electronic Promenade. She began volunteering for the Neon Museum as a docent in the summer of 2013 and also volunteers for the AARP and KNPR public radio.
Bette is no stranger to volunteering at museums. When she retired to Las Vegas in 2002, she donated time at the Liberace Museum as a docent and conducted more than 500 tours before it closed.
She enjoys sharing her knowledge of Las Vegas and the Neon Boneyard with visitors because she says it keeps her young.
If you’re a people person like Bette, share your talents with the Neon Museum – become a volunteer. Fill out an online interest form here.
Education: We have it all for kids, families, adults
The Neon Museum offers several exciting educational opportunities for children, families and adults throughout the year. Offerings include lectures, panel discussions, arts residencies and one-of-a-kind programs in the Neon Boneyard.
Here’s what we have coming up for you:
Lifelong Learning at the Neon Museum
“Times of the Signs” series, sponsored by CenturyLink, is set in the Neon Boneyard and brings illuminating lectures, panel discussions, presentations or performances to the community.
- October 18, 2016, a panel discussion from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., titled “Family Friendly Las Vegas in the ‘90s.” Tickets: $10. Free to Neon Museum members.
Panelists include Diana Tracy Cohen, Ph.D., associate professor of Political Science at Central Connecticut State University; David Schwartz, Ph.D., director of the Center for Gaming Research, UNLV; and Michael Wardle, painter and sculptor of the Luxor sphinx, among other Las Vegas projects. Editor, author and journalist Geoff Schumacher will be the panel moderator.
Upcoming Family Programs
- Junior Interpreter Tours suitable for families with children will be provided the third Saturday of the month at 9:30 a.m. from September through May. Remaining 2016 dates are September 17, October 15, November 19 and December 17.
Tickets are required: $5 per person and free to children 6 and under.
- “December to Remember” will be back at the Neon Museum from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., December 10, 2016. Our popular annual program features ornament making, Santa Claus, hot chocolate and the Las Vegas Academy carolers. Please visit our calendar for the timing of each activity.
No registration is required and admission is free.