Renovations Will Make the Las Vegas Attraction Even More Tourist-Friendly
By Charlie Johnston
Since neon first graced the Glitter Gulch skyline in the 1930s, many signs have outlived their usefulness and been taken down to make way for bigger, better, and brighter beacons. Others met the ends of their runs when the resorts they promoted were themselves razed, as often happens on the ever-changing skyline of Las Vegas. Most of those signs were not owned by the businesses they served, but were instead leased from sign builders such as Young Electric Sign Company and were relegated to storage yards or repurposed following their tours of duty. The Neon Museum holds more than 150 of those discarded signs, the bulk of which are housed in the fenced Boneyard Park. The two-acre Boneyard holds signs from the famous—the no-longer-rotating Silver Slipper that is said to have driven Howard Hughes to buy the Silver Slipper property itself in order to vanquish its light—to the obscure: a well-preserved yellow duck with an impossibly happy grin.
Tours of the Boneyard are currently available by appointment only, but the Neon Museum is well on its way to making itself more accessible. The new visitors center, which formerly served as the iconic shell-shaped lobby of the La Concha Motel, is on track for a mid-2012 opening and will include a reception area, interactive exhibits, event space, and museum offices. The museum’s extension, the Fremont Street Gallery on Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Third Street downtown, features nine refurbished signs that, unlike the non-lit signs in the Boneyard, can be visited during a self-guided walking tour 24 hours a day, seven days a week.