I’ve been to Las Vegas so many times, and there were two places I’d been wanting to visit on numerous occasions — the Liberace Museum and The Neon Museum. Interestingly, it is during the tour of The Neon Museum that I find out the Liberace Museum has since closed.
The Neon Museum tour lasts about an hour and I suggest buying tickets online beforehand as they are snatched up pretty quickly. We looked online and saw there were still tickets available, but when we got there, the next tour was already full, so had to wait for the following one. We didn’t, however, have to wait an hour — the tours go every half hour during the weekends — so we walked across the street to the garden and spent a few minutes there. You will find historical facts regarding the Neon Museum dotted around. We also browsed in the store, taking photos using the photo booth inside the store.
The visitor center/store is the entrance to the museum featuring a restored lobby shell from the defunct La Concha Motel (there is also a sign in the boneyard). Across the street by the parking lot is The Neon Boneyard City Park where a “boneyard” of old signs are housed and currently being restored — though very slowly — by the museum.
These signs are not only artistic, but also historically significant to the culture of the city. Each of the restored signs in the collection holds a story about who created it and why it is important, something our Las Vegas native guide is eager to share with us. Between historical facts and her own memories, the tour is unique every time you visit depending on your guide.
The Neon Museum was founded in 1996 as a partnership between the Allied Arts Council of Southern Nevada and the City of Las Vegas. Today, it is an independent non-profit. The Neon Museum maintains restored signs along the Fremont Street Experience as well as the signs in the Boneyard collection.
There were two signs which struck a special chord with me — Terrible’s and Sahara. I remember staying at Sahara 15 years ago — it was the last so-called “adult” trip I was to take before my son arrived. On January 24, 2006, the original 80-foot (24 m) tall Sahara sign was donated to the museum. And Terrible’s? It is where we always end up buying gas before the road trip home. We also had breakfast one year at Terrible’s Hotel. It was $5/person or something absurd and there were all the essentials — eggs, bacon, and cream of wheat which I surprisingly liked. I remember this clearly because my son was a little tyke then and he managed to put away a good amount of bacon for something crazy like 99 cents.
The Neon Museum recently restored three signs to the median, including the famous Silver Slipper which sits at the roadside almost like a beacon. My BFF wanted us to take a photo of her holding the slipper in the palm of her hand, but no matter where we stood, we were unable to capture her in the exact position. I also chuckled at the sign offering “free aspirin” — which, we are told, used to be a stop when leaving Las Vegas.
If you’re planning to visit the museum, I highly suggest you order your tickets online beforehand especially during the summer months. Tours are limited due to the heat, so check online for ticket availability. One-hour tours operate every thirty minutes during daylight hours seven days a week.
770 N Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89101