Neon Museum President and CEO, Rob McCoy, to retire

The Neon Museum Board of Trustees has announced the retirement of Rob McCoy, President and CEO of the museum since 2016. McCoy led the museum during a time of significant growth in visitation while the collection itself grew exponentially. During McCoy’s time at the museum, several new signs were added, including the iconic Hard Rock Café guitar and the historically significant Moulin Rouge. Additionally, the museum hosted the Tim Burton exhibit, considered a major step forward for the city’s burgeoning arts community. McCoy also launched the Love our Vegas (LOV) campaign and the Pay As You Go Campaign which allowed 12,923 locals to visit the museum for a free or reduced fee. Additionally, he launched the Museums For All program within the museum which allowed 1003 patrons receiving food assistance across the nation to visit at a greatly reduced rate.

McCoy, who also served as board chairman and board member from 2010-2016, said his time at The Neon Museum was a wonderful capstone of his 45-year career in a city that he loves. “It has been an honor and privilege to lead this unique and important institution for the last four and a half years,” said McCoy.

As a search is conducted for a replacement. Bruce Spotleson, Vice President, Fund and Partner Development for the Museum, is serving as Acting Executive Director.

The Neon Museum debuts 360-degree virtual tour of “What You Mean To Me,” New Exhibition by 2020 Artist-in-Residence Victor Ehikhamenor

The Neon Museum introduces a 360-degree, self-guided, virtual exhibition of brand-new artwork by internationally lauded Nigerian-American artist Victor Ehikhamenor. Titled “What You Mean to Me,” it is the two-time Venice Biennale exhibitor’s first solo exhibition in the United States since 2008. Virtual visitors can navigate around the installation, see photographs of the work in progress and listen to Ehikhamenor’s recorded discussion of each work. The virtual exhibition is free and available for exploring here.

Comprising five three-dimensional artworks illuminated with neon tubing and monumental in scale, Ehikhamenor produced the work over seven weeks during his artist-in-residency at The Neon Museum. His residency took place from Oct. 26 through Dec. 18.

Incorporating interpretations of iconic Las Vegas signs in the Museum’s exhibitions and archive, Ehikhamenor’s artwork also includes references to historic and contemporary culture. He integrates these elements into large-scale drawings interwoven into sculpture and installation work. This new series, exhibited within the context of the Museum’s historic sign collection, marks a fresh avenue of exploration for Ehikhamenor through the incorporation of neon elements.

This exhibition marks The Neon Museum’s fifth National Artist in Residence; the program began in 2016. It is supported, in part, by the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and the State of Nevada. The Neon Museum would also like to acknowledge the generous support of Juhl Las Vegas.

“Working with The Neon Museum for this residency enabled me to create a conversation between the classic neon signage and my contemporary work. I’ve enjoyed mixing with members of the Las Vegas community and interacting with the space and place,” said Ehikhamenor. “With neon, I have turned on a new medium in my career and imagine I will use it again and again. Oscar, the neon bender at Hartlauer Signs who worked on these works with me, was not just a fabricator—he was a collaborator, as excited as I was to see my graphics translated into neon designs.”

Virtual art exhibitions have become increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, with world-famous art institutions around the world making them available to a global population whose travel plans have been scuttled. Last fall, The Neon Museum debuted a 360-degree tour of its open-air Boneyard Collection of historic Las Vegas signs; it is available here.

Wee Kirk O’ the Heather sign acquired by The Neon Museum

In the 1930s, marriage and divorce laws were more lenient in Nevada than those of neighboring states and businesses catering to the City’s growing market for wedding services flourished. The term “quickie wedding” became a part of the local vernacular. The Wee Kirk O’ the Heather wedding chapel adobe structure, built-in 1924, was originally used as a house that was later converted into a chapel in 1940. This chapel began to establish itself as a quick spot to get married after couples obtained a marriage license from the nearby Marriage License Bureau.

In October of 2020, the building was demolished. At the time of its closure, it was the longest-running wedding chapel in Las Vegas. The property’s 700-pound roadside pylon is now part of The Neon Museum collection and has been placed in storage for the time being. The sign contains neon flowers that pay homage to the Scottish translation of the chapel’s name, meaning “the little chapel of the lucky flowers.” This chapel has been a part of the Las Vegas community for 80 years, and for the past 96 years, community members and tourists alike have passed this adobe structure that became known as the Wee Kirk on their way toward Fremont Street on Las Vegas Blvd.

Thank you for your support!

We would like to thank everyone who supported us on Giving Tuesday in 2020. Your generosity allows the museum to collect, preserve, study and exhibit an incredible collection of Las Vegas signs.

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