In today’s #WhyIGiveTNMLV member series, we’re introducing you to Jolanta & Steven Oliver eight year members of The Neon Museum.
Q & A with Jolanta Oliver, The Neon Museum Member
Pictured here with husband, Steven Oliver.
Q: When/how did you get involved with The Neon Museum?
A: It was love at first sight. My husband and I went to The Neon Museum for the first time on March 16, 2014, just to do something different. A “boneyard” of neon signs sounded intriguing. The docent was phenomenal, and she brought the signs to life with the stories behind them. Our first visit was during the day, and we knew we needed to visit again at night to see the few signs that were restored at the time.
Q: What attracted you to the museum?
A: I was attracted to the raw beauty of the signs. I love the dirt and the signs tucked away here and there. I also love that the museum is ever changing. The experience is different, and I see something new every time I visit. I was born and raised in Philadelphia and have never been exposed to neon that I can recall. The Neon Museum is unlike other museums. The staff are passionate, and the energy in the museum is contagious. I love everything about it.
Q: Why do you give to The Neon Museum? What motivates you to stay involved?
A: We have visited The Neon Museum many times and during one of the visits when we were checking in, I told a staff member that we love the museum and visit often; she suggested we become members and apply the price of today’s ticket to a membership. So we did exactly that and have been members for over eight years now.
There are so many reasons we continue our membership. The Las Vegas landscape is unique, and it is critical that we preserve its history. So many buildings in this town are just imploded rather than preserved, and history is then lost. I feel I have to support the passion of the staff at The Neon Museum who tell the story of Las Vegas through these iconic signs. The entire staff, without exception, are incredible. They are all very knowledgeable and kind and friendly and most of all, fun. They really make us feel special with every contact. The atmosphere is electric!
New signs are constantly being restored. The Neon Boneyard is no longer a dark place with a few rays of light. It lights up the night sky with the Hard Rock Cafe guitar, the Moulin Rouge sign, and the Stardust sign, to name a few. But the best feature of all is Brilliant! It’s perfectly named. We bring all guests that visit us in Las Vegas to The Neon Museum, and we make sure Brilliant! is always a part of our visits. I have seen it dozens of times, and I still cannot believe that the signs are not electrified. The laser show is so magnificent that it totally fools your brain into thinking the neon lights are truly shining and alive. And the accompanying music is perfect. Seeing Brilliant! is one of my all-time favorite things to do in Las Vegas.
Q: Do you have an anecdote about the museum you would like to share?
A: We attended the recent member event for the lighting of the new Plaza sign. Doreen Alvarado, Membership Manager, took our photo in front of the Plaza sign. Then my husband and I walked around the Boneyard enjoying the signs. We bumped into and started chatting with other staff… Suddenly, I get an alert on my phone that the International Space Station (ISS) is flying over us. Some in the group had never seen it in person, and we all watched in awe as it flew over The Neon Museum.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important work that The Neon Museum does?
A: It’s critical to preserve history for future generations. And The Neon Museum makes it fun, for children as well as adults.
Q: What do you hope the organization will achieve over the next ten years?
A: I hope the organization has the continued support to be able to restore many more signs and maybe even expand its campus. I hope you it also brings back the Stars and Stardust Astronomy event to the Boneyard. The Las Vegas Astronomy Society has the best telescopes to view the stars and planets.
Q: Who do you think would enjoy a visit to The Neon Museum?
A: I think the museum is perfect for everyone. I cannot imagine anyone not loving it as much as I do. It’s an opportunity to learn and spend time outdoors and chat with visitors from all over the world.
Q: What’s your favorite sign and why?
A: Oh my, it’s so incredibly hard to choose just one. All the signs work so well together, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle that only looks beautiful when all the pieces are put together. But if I had to choose, it has to be the Ugly Duckling Car Sales sign. For so many years, I wanted the Ugly Duckling sign to be restored, and now it shines brightly and beautifully. I love it.
Watch a one-minute video of the museum’s Ugly Duckling Neon Restoration.