For today’s “Why I Give” member profile, we’d like to introduce you to Eriks Garsvo. He's been a member of The Neon Museum since 2019.
Q & A with Eriks Garsvo, The Neon Museum Member
Q: When/how did you get involved with The Neon Museum?
A: I became a member of the museum in 2019, as I had to support what these folks were doing with the preservation of iconic Vegas neon signs. I had known about Neon Museum’s Boneyard for quite some time. I was in Vegas with my father and had to stop by to see all the signs. At the same time, the museum just opened the Brilliant! show. That was a must-see, after seeing preview videos online that emotionally moved me. This was a place I had to see and be a part of.
Q: What attracted you to the museum?
A: I love Vegas history and vintage neon signs. This place has both.
Q: Why do you give to The Neon Museum? What motivates you to stay involved?
A: Since I don’t live in Vegas, I am unable to work or volunteer at the museum (even though I wish I could!). Preserving not only the art of neon but also the signs themselves is important. This form of sign-making is going away fast. The Neon Museum also tells the history of greater Las Vegas. There are many other museums in the city that tell stories of the town, the mob, the early Wild West days, and all the glimmering shows in between. But The Neon Museum pays tribute to the sentinels that stood on the highway and welcomed many a weary traveler to the city. Vegas would not be the Vegas everyone knows without its flashing neon lights of Glitter Gulch.
I stay involved because I believe in what the museum does, and I enjoy the friendships I have made with staff at the museum. I always keep coming back for more!
Q: Do you have an anecdote about the museum you would like to share? It can be a museum visit or attendance at an event.
A: My second trip to the museum was a deep dive into the history of the signs and how they work. I met Emily Fellmer, Collections Manager, who has been a wonderful contact, along with the membership manager. These staff members have helped me in my research in any way they can. That second visit the museum partnered with Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival volunteers who answered questions about how signs work, and even showcased a briefcase of neon used by a neon salesman. I found it really fascinating. Another highlight was being able to go on a behind-the-scenes tour for members.
In Southwest Idaho, where I’m based, I run Owyhee County Museum. Recently I was able to save a neon sign from a neighborhood hardware store. I’m pleased to share it’s now up and running inside our Annex Building.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important work that The Neon Museum does?
A: Preserving the signs of “lost Vegas” and educating the public of the art form of neon and the history behind the signs. The museum makes neon signs accessible to future generations.
Q: What do you hope the organization will achieve over the next ten years?
A: I hope to see them expand the campus into a place that offers education classes to the public. It’s not all about the art, design or even the history of these signs—it is also about the craftspeople that made them. I don’t want that side of the story to be lost. Many people don’t realize what goes into making a sign, from the drawing board, to the wiring of a loom that is the size of your arm, to all the machines that make a sign animate. I am all for a hands-on expansion of the museum. It would be so cool to take a class in neon tube-bending and learn the art of neon creation…
Q: Who do you think would enjoy a visit to the museum?
A: I would, of course! 😊 I know that of some of my friends in Idaho, who love and collect local neon signs, would also love a visit. I hope they enjoy their tours as much as I have.
Q: What’s your favorite sign/why?
A: Gosh, to pick only one is tough. I do love the Golden Nugget sign, as I am currently replicating a miniature version for my garage. I also love Stardust, Yucca Motel, Vegas Vic, and The Mint sign to name others.
Learn more about the art of neon sign-making, from neon bender Ina Macias and neon bender Oscar Gonzalez.