Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Morning Edition"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
KNPR's State of Nevada About SON Archives Participate Specials

Neon Museum, Signpost To History
Neon Museum, Signpost To History

AIR DATE: October 26, 2012

The Neon Museum, which features a visitors' center made out of the renovated lobby of the La Concha motel and more than 150 iconic signs, could put Las Vegas on the architectural map. Scholars and artists consider the impact these signs had on the cultural landscape:
Alan Hess, architecture historian, mid-century modern expert:  "You’re coming through, especially at night - darkness, wilderness, nothing. And then suddenly as you come over the pass, you begin to see this glimmering colorful display of lights on the floor of the valley. As you approach the signs, they become real, they become large ... they loom over you ... with the Dunes sign, with its onion dome and the Aladdin’s sign, which is kind of like a thousand and one night extravaganza. The Stardust sign, the Sahara sign, the Frontier, all of these."

"They were all spectacular, my favorite, the classic one is the Stardust sign. It was 180-200 feet tall and it was as if the heavens opened up and the glitter of the stars was falling on the earth. It was, of course, animated  - you had different colors coming on in sequence. It was in that great Electra-jag font which is over in the Neon Boneyard now. It just captured an era and a time in America, as well as Las Vegas."

Danielle Kelly, CEO and executive director of the Neon Museum: "My favorite humorous sign is the Steiner Cleaner's happy shirt. So there's no text on it at all, it's just a shirt that's animated and its arms go up and down because it was so happy that it was so beautifully cleaned by Steiner Cleaner's."

Alan Hess: “This is a thin shell concrete structure in waves. Basically it looks like a shell, a large elaborate seashell in many ways. It was designed by Paul R. Williams, a very noted architect since the 1920s in Los Angeles. He was also African American, and he rose to the very heights of his profession at a time when African Americans weren’t usually in those positions ... this is not typical of his work, most of his work was beautiful homes for movie stars, lavish and traditional in style. This is ultra-modern, however.”


Brian "Buzz" Leming, sign designer: "Everytime I see someone oogling the sign out there I think, 'I remember that one, we worked real hard on tht one' I was there during the heyday all through the modern technology and I’ll take the heyday any time."

Send your pictures of classic Las Vegas neon signs to


    comments powered by Disqus
    The Hilton sign fell during one of the worst windstorms the Valley has seen in years. How do they/ you not know this?
    GAOct 25, 2012 10:10:56 AM
    Honestly, how much public money in total has been spent on the museum, the land it's on, and any associated infrastructure? I'd wager that it is essentially a de facto county museum, despite its being presented as a noble and private non-profit.
    Tom HurstOct 24, 2012 17:46:13 PM
    Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.