You may have heard the saying about how time flies when you’re having fun. This October we will celebrate our Fifth Anniversary and with it we will embark on the biggest development since our opening.
The Museum’s North Gallery has been sitting quietly next to our parking lot since the fall of 2012 with only occasional photo shoots and small events filling the space. Beginning this fall an “immersive experience” will appear nightly in the North Gallery. We’re in the design phase but rest assured, this will be a first in the nation endeavor and will further the Museum’s reputation for remarkable innovation. As part of this project I’m pleased to announce we have signed nationally recognized projection artist Craig Winslow, who will develop this program by combining art, history and music into a nightly program worthy of a prominent spot on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Along with the North Gallery experience, we begin our new fiscal year with more positive news. Visitation is up 28 percent over the previous year with more than 120,000 visitors making their way to the crown jewel of Las Vegas. Ninety percent of our visitors are tourists, 72 percent of them coming to us from Strip properties. This is a noteworthy and significant statistic that adds daily to the economic rebound of downtown. As you may know, we purchased an adjacent parcel and now have opened that space for additional signs, which have been out of the public eye for years.
And, thanks to several generous donors, three signs in our main collection are being restored and will be returned to the Boneyard and fully lit for future visitors to enjoy.
Thanks to all who continue to contribute to our cause and help us Grow the Glow!
Until next time,
Iconic Palace Station train, sign ‘chug’ to Neon home
All aboard! The Nevada Southern train has arrived at the Neon Museum but it won’t be leaving our “station.” The train theme had been displayed on the side of the Palace Station Hotel-Casino near Interstate-15 and West Sahara Avenue since 1983, but now has a permanent home at the Museum.
In addition to the train, owners Station Casinos also donated a Palace Station neon sign. The donations, which were celebrated with an unveiling June 22 at the Museum, are the result of major renovations begun in 2016 at Palace Station.
“We’re thrilled that now we have an important piece of Las Vegas history preserved here at the Museum,” said president and CEO Rob McCoy. “It adds to the story we have to tell about this remarkable global destination.”
‘Welcome’ sign creator Betty Willis honored in hometown
Neon exhibit at Overton a tribute to pioneering designer
Betty Willis visits the Neon Museum, home to some of her iconic work.
As a tribute to the late Betty Willis, designer of the world famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the Neon Museum placed a small exhibit in her honor at the Lost City Museum in Overton, hometown of the renowned sign designer, who died at age 91 in 2015.
The exhibit opened July 4 and will close August 30. It features images of signs in the Neon Museum collection and a limited-edition lithograph of the Welcome sign that Betty and photographer William Hannapple autographed.
“It’s well worth the 63-mile drive up 1-15 and $5 admission for adults,” noted Rob McCoy, president and CEO. “Betty is known primarily for the Welcome sign but she also designed the distinctive and eye-catching signs for the Moulin Rouge, Blue Angel Motel and Bow and Arrow Motel.” Visit the Lost City Museum website for details.
Betty attended art school in Los Angeles. Her first work as a commercial artist after returning to Las Vegas featured showgirl illustrations for production show print advertisements. She later transitioned to designing neon signs. Betty was one of the only local women working in the sign design industry in the 1950s and worked until retiring at age 77.
How did she become involved in the Welcome sign design project?
Local salesman Ted Rogich envisioned a sizable welcome sign and approached her with the request to design it as a gateway to the city. She and Rogich sold it to Clark County for $4,000 upon completion in 1959. Betty never copyrighted the design but hoped it would be used freely to promote Las Vegas.
She most certainly got her wish.
And preservationists got theirs in 2009 when the National Register of Historic Places added the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign to its prestigious list.
Historic Red Barn martini sign lights up Strip
Known for imploding its history along the Las Vegas Strip, the Neon Museum is bringing back reminders of the city’s glowing past for visitors with a series of iconic neon signs displayed outside of its grounds.
This first to be displayed on Las Vegas Boulevard is the Red Barn, which was lit formally June 26 outside the Fashion Show. The Red Barn opened as an antique store in the 1950s on Tropicana Avenue, morphed into a bar in the early 1960s and by 1969 became one of the city’s first openly gay bars. It closed in 1988. The Neon Museum later restored and added the iconic martini glass sign to its collection.
Installed on a platform near Neiman Marcus – close to the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fashion Show Drive – the sign lighting ceremony during PRIDE Month included representatives from Executive Pride, the LGBTQ advocacy organization, which presented a donation to the Museum; and the Fashion Show, a Museum partner.
The Red Barn visually helps tell the Las Vegas story as visitors stroll the boulevard. Watch for others at this location in the future.
Artist in Residence ends stay, adds to Neon legacy
San Diego-based sculptorartist Allison Wiese completed her month-long national artist-in-residence at the Museum residency on June 30, hosting an Open Studio Event at our Ne10 building downtown. The Museum’s second annual artist residency attracted more than 20 applicants.
During her stay, Allison enjoyed spending time in the Boneyard studying the signs, researching the Museum's archives and exploring the cultural context of the city.
Midway through her residency, she gave a public talk on her practice, and at the closing event she featured projects that will be developed further in addition to a new neon work that will be joining the Museum’s collection.
Funding for Wiese’s residency came from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state-funded Nevada Arts Council.
Her residency attracted media coverage from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Click here to read that account.
Beverly Saperstein: Our docent and Nevada Senior Citizen of the Year
Honored for her volunteer efforts at dozen-plus organizations since ‘91
Photo Credit: Rachel Aston, Las Vegas Review-Journal
To say that Beverly Saperstein “loves” volunteering is the understatement of the year. She enjoys it so much that it earned her the “Nevada Senior Citizen of the Year” award for 2017 from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She has been a Neon Museum interpreter since 2014.
Beverly, who came to Las Vegas in 1991, has volunteered most of her life. In Southern Nevada, she has volunteered at more than a dozen organizations, including Catholic Charities, Clark County Social Services, Shade Tree, Las Vegas Rescue Mission, AARP, Goodwill, Safe Haven, Springs Preserve, Cleveland Clinic, Smith Center and the Liberace Museum.
“She is a tireless source of support to her neighbors and community,” said Cynthia Warso, Director of Education & Engagement. “Congratulations, Beverly, from all of us at the Neon Museum. You have a heart as big as Nevada and we are so lucky to have you on our volunteer team.”
Why does Beverly still volunteer at age 80? Simply put, “I’ve done it because people have appreciated it….I enjoy this so much.”
As senior citizen of the year honoree, the R-J published a profile on Beverly last May. Read all about her volunteer life here.
Interested in volunteering as a docent at the Museum? Complete an online form here.
NV Energy contest votes can power youth field trips
Vote for us daily until July 21; $10,000 at stake
Here’s your chance to help students experience the magic of the Neon! The Neon Museum is participating in the NV Energy Charitable Foundation “Power of Good Giveaway” contest and has the opportunity to win $10,000 to support our Field Trip Subsidy Program.
NV Energy customers will decide the winners. So vote for us daily until July 21. Thanks for your support of the Neon Museum and its educational efforts!
Developing The Glow
Frankie Moreno sings for a cause (ours!) August 19
Neon gets piece of ticket sales at Golden Nugget
Rock and pop artist Frankie Moreno is singing for a cause this summer – the Neon Museum’s – at the Golden Nugget. A portion of ticket sales for his 8 p.m. August 19 performance will be donated to us and we’re grateful for the support. So, get your tickets and enjoy Frankie knowing you are supporting our mission to Grow the Glow!
Your financial support keeps history alive
The Neon Museum appreciates the financial generosity of sign lovers from worldwide. This much-needed support helps us continue our mission of collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas neon signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. It’s easy to make your gift on line. We hope you’ll help us keep history glowing.
We have a variety of ways to support the Museum. Please click here to see the different ways you can donate today!
Celebrating Spectacular Annual Fund
Your unrestricted gift to the 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 make your gift to the “Celebrating Spectacular” Annual Fund.
Sign Conservation Fund
Your gift to the Neon Museum’s Sign Conservation Fund will help ongoing maintenance of the Neon Boneyard collection for future generations.
Click here to make to make your gift to the Sign Conservation Fund.
AmazonSmile helps us Grow the Glow
Bookmark this link and when you shop on Amazon 0.5 percent of the price of your purchases will be donated to the Neon Museum!
Big Thanks to Our Donors
Click here to see a list of Neon donors.