We have another great “Why I Give” feature today! Meet Jennifer Ruckle. She is a proud member of The Neon Museum and Las Vegas history lover.
Q: When/how did you get involved with The Neon Museum?
A: I have been involved since before there was even a building. I have been frequenting that area (Las Vegas Boulevard and McWilliams Avenue) since 2000. I belong to the Natural History Museum and that is how I first learned about the Neon Boneyard. It is next door. I would bring my kids to the Natural History Museum, and we would frequent the Neon Boneyard when they had free community days. They had a library and children's museum located in the neighborhood, as well.
Q: What attracted you to the museum?
A: I was attracted to The Neon Museum because I love history, and I think signs tell the unique history of a place using architecture and signage. It is such a tragedy when old signs are destroyed. A good example is the Dunes Hotel. It had such cool signs, and it was so sad when they were imploded with the hotel. Sometimes signs bring back great memories for people. The Dunes was one of the first casinos I stayed at when I was investigating UNLV as a possible college to attend. I also gambled at the Dunes on my 21st birthday. Now, people just have to rely on photos, books, and stories.
Q: Why do you give to The Neon Museum? What motivates you to stay involved?
A: I enjoy staying actively involved because of my love of history. I love the variety of lectures that the museum hosts and the cool venue. I love to donate to help preserve these neat signs from places forgotten.
Most of all, some of these signs have very good memories for me growing up in Las Vegas. This is the reason I donated to restore the Hard Rock sign at the museum. The first Hard Rock Café I visited was in Dallas, Texas, where I grew up. When it opened in Vegas, I would occasionally bring my kids to eat there. At the time, I worked across the street at a hotel and saw it every day. I’m also a big fan of music of all types. The café on The Strip did a great job of preserving musician memorabilia. The guitar sign is just so classy and such a neat piece of architecture!
Q: Do you have an anecdote about the museum you would like to share?
A: One of the first lectures I attended at The Neon Museum was about road trips in the 1950’s. It reminded me of all the trips I took with my grandmother in the 1980’s. I have some old postcards and road brochures of family trips from this period. It was a great lecture because it was set up in the outdoor space of The Neon Museum.
Secondly, I remember being invited to the switch-on party for the Yucca Motel sign, located in the first aisle of the Boneyard. It looks like a cactus flower. My friend and I, who share a membership, attended. It was cool because they had a catering company do an impressive cake of the signs. Everyone in attendance counted down for the switch to be flipped. To see the signs come to life was such a memorable experience. Plus, we were able to roam The Neon Museum and look at other signs on display. I love seeing new signs being fixed up and turned on. It is such a magical place.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important work that The Neon Museum does?
A: I think right now The Neon Museum is doing a great job of educating visitors about history and architecture. My family and I love STEAM Saturday events. The museum is doing a lot of good in educating children about neon as a medium and the sign business. It’s also great to see old signs displayed on Fremont Street and the downtown area, an example of how The Neon Museum adds to the culture of Las Vegas.
Q: What do you hope the organization will achieve over the next ten years?
A: It is so cool to see Las Vegas becoming interested in arts and culture. I’m glad The Neon Museum is leading the way, both on- and off-campus.
Q: Who do you think would enjoy a visit to The Neon Museum?
A: Everyone would enjoy the museum. Even little children can enjoy this museum. They will grow up with a different perspective of their city. Museums, in general, should be for all ages.
Q: What’s your favorite sign and why?
A: My two favorite signs are the Treasure Island pirate skull and the Hard Rock guitar because they are linked to my childhood and that of my children. One of my sons adored the Pirates of Caribbean movie growing up, and the theme for his room was pirates. I took him several times to see the “Battle of Buccaneer Bay” at Treasure Island. I am so happy both of these signs were saved by the museum.
Sign up for the next STEAM Saturday.