One of the must-sees on the itinerary of our US road trip in 2011 was the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas, partly because I’m a neon and history fiend and partly because I’m not much of a gambler or glitzy show watcher.
Therefore I had to find alternatives for our visit to Sin City and this seemed a great way to learn a bit more about the history of the place, and get an insight into what the predecessors of the MGM Grand and New York New York looked like.
And of course, the neon signs, being so important to draw tourists in off the Strip, are impressive pieces of work.
The Neon Museum
When we visited, the La Concha motel lobby, removed in bits from the Strip and reconstituted alongside the boneyard, wasn’t in use: but it’s since opened up as a beautiful visitors’ centre. This iconic building (you may have noticed it in the film Casino) has been beautifully restored and events are now held regularly in the Boneyard, including weddings on Valentine’s Day.
The museum has already restored some of the old neon signs, and you can take a self-guided tour of ten of those in the Fremont Street area. Many of the rest will be restored and mounted along Las Vegas Boulevard, which will be a fantastic sight. Some unfortunately are just too far gone to restore to working order but even those in the worst condition will still be of use. There’s a plan to construct an entrance sign made up of lettering from more than one sign.
The museum is a fantastic organisation who have done a great job saving neon signs that are no longer viable (LCD and LED signs are much cheaper to make and run and can be seen during the day). And they keep the history of Las Vegas alive, a city which mostly obliterates and builds over its past.
Neon Boneyard signs
Here are some of the stories behind the signs:
Sally’s leg no longer kicks up (I’ve read that it never did work, really) and Vic’s arm no longer moves.
Neon Museum details (Updated Jul 10 2013)
It’s advised to register for one of their tours beforehand – they run seven days a week and the number of days per week fluctuate through the year, and they’ve introduced evening tours during the summer months (we’re hoping to go on one on our next trip this year). Full information on how to do this can be found on the Neon Museum website
The museum is situated about 20-25 minutes’ walk from Fremont Street. Bear this in mind if you’re planning on walking on a hot day, and think about taking the taxi or car instead. Take plenty of water as you’re out in the open.