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With Tech and Tunes, Neon Museum Brings Vintage Vegas Back To Life

Credit: Neon Museum

Today’s technology will bring Las Vegas yesterdays back to life at the Neon Museum.

The downtown Las Vegas museum this week debuts “Brilliant,” an augmented reality show that uses projection mapping to reanimate long-dead casino signs.

“Projection mapping is using projected and digital content and mapping it and aligning it to the physical world,” said Portland, Ore.-based designer  and digital artist Craig Winslow, who created the show.

Winslow said it would be extremely expensive to retube and relight the 40 signs used in the show but by using projectors the museum's north gallery comes to life.

“You are going to walk into the space and be completely surrounded by all these Old Vegas signs, which are all worn and broken and unpowered, but they’re going to magically come to life around you,” he said.

Courtesy: Neon Museum

Winslow said the magic of the show is that it is a collective experience versus something like virtual reality, which can be immersive but personal.

“What I love about projection mapping is that everyone can have a shared experience that is unlike other mediums out there,” he said.

Along with the programmed digital lighting, the 30-minute show also features an old-school Las Vegas soundtrack that includes music from Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Liberace.

“This fits perfectly with our mission," Rob McCoy the museum's president and CEO told KNPR's State of Nevada, "Our mission is to not only show some of the great art pieces of sign making through the years but also to tell the history.”

He said in main part of the museum tour guides provide the historical context for the signs, but in the "Brillant" show, it's the music that does that.

“We’re the only city in the world that implodes its buildings but saves its signs,” said McCoy, “And thank goodness we save the signs because they’re a unique part of our history.”

Courtesy: Neon Museum



Rob McCoy, president and CEO, Neon Museum; Craig Winslow, digital artist

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Nikole Robinson Carroll is KNPR's Morning Edition host. You can hear her every morning from 5am until 10am on News 889. She also produces segments for KNPR's State of Nevada.
With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.