The Neon Museum is located in the heart of Las Vegas and houses over 250 historic Las Vegas signs sprawled across 2.25 acres. With 3 main sections, the museum consists of the main collection, a sight and sound experience, and a unique visitors' centre that was the former lobby of the La Concha Motel. The nonprofit museum fits right into the quirky, colourful, and unexpected air of Vegas itself and features fluorescent landmarks of Vegas iconography from across the decades.

A tour through the outdoor exhibition, the Neon Boneyard, or through Brilliant! (the North Gallery), usually takes visitors about an hour, which still allows for plenty of time to sit back and admire the signs, take photos, and take a leisurely stroll. Other museums are situated nearby, including The Mob Museum and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which could make for a day spent exploring the city’s history.

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The Neon Museum Highlights

The Neon Boneyard Main Collection features over 200 unrestored signs. If you visit after sunset, you can experience the signs illuminated. Visitors can learn about the specific history behind each sign, including its creator, the inspiration for the sign, and how it fits into the historic landscape of vintage Vegas. The North Gallery features Brilliant!, which is a sight-and-sound programme that orchestrates a one-of-a-kind experience for guests.

Alongside these collections, the former La Concha Motel lobby, which now serves as The Neon Museum’s Visitor Centre, makes up another exclusive part of the museum’s experience. The building features sweeping shell shapes reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, with space-age vibes. Originally built in 1961, the hotel lobby was relocated in 2006 to its current location, and its combination of early design elements and restored features maintain the authentic style and flair of the original structure.

History of The Neon Museum

In preparation for your visit, you can view the museum’s blog, which has a variety of articles that offer information on historical trends throughout signage in Vegas. One article, titled “Roadside Conveniences No Longer Seen on Signs,” pays homage to dated advertisements at motels and hotels for features such as colour television, air conditioning, and steamed heat.

If you’re curious about where they discover all of their signs, The Neon Museum’s collection consists primarily of accessioned objects from donors, along with a couple of loaned pieces. The Boneyard’s somewhat chaotic exhibition space was designed by former Neon Museum Executive Director Danielle Kelly. Kelly aimed to provide visitors with the experience of wandering through a sign boneyard, a space where sign companies keep decommissioned works, with signs somewhat haphazardly and sporadically laying about. The stacked, overlapping sign display was curated to mimic this feeling for guests.

photo by Jeremy Thompson (CC BY 2.0) modified

Good to know when visiting The Neon Museum

The best time of day to visit is most likely sunset or evening when the signs are on full, illuminated display. Visitors are advised to purchase their tickets in advance, particularly if they want to view a specific part of the museum, such as Brilliant!, or take a guided tour through the Neon Boneyard. The museum offers discounts for veterans, locals, and those receiving SNAP benefits.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the museum. If you’re more than 15 minutes late for your preregistered time slot, you could forfeit your reserved time. While cameras aren’t allowed, there are moments in the exhibit in which visitors can snap a quick photo with their phone. So, bring your smartphone, but leave your clunkier camera at home.

The Neon Museum in Las Vegas

Location: 770 Las Vegas Blvd North, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA

Open: Hours vary by tour

Phone: +1 702-387-6366