Visiting the Neon Museum aka the Neon Boneyard has been high on my ‘to do’ list for a long time now. Since its foundry in 1996, they have saved a huge amount of historical hotel and casino signs from the city, some of which they’ve even successfully restored and light up during their evening tours. With over 2 acres and over 200 signs you’re not going to need a lot of space on your SD card for pictures, because my gosh it is something else in there!
To visit you have to book a tour, and as I mentioned in my last post, spaces are limited and they book up fast, so try and get ahead of the queue by booking up to a month in advance. There is an option to book a photo shoot, but it is CRAZY MONEY, so unless you’re getting married or have more money than sense, book a standard tour and make friendly with your fellow voyeurs and tour guide so they give you a little space to take your pictures. They like to keep things moving but our guide was more than happy for me to pose for pictures whilst he was talking which bought me a little extra time. Remember, a little kindness and politeness goes a long way.
A great top tip I got from Lynsay Loves was to plan for the sunshine in advance: if you book in the middle of the day you will get a lot more severe shadows and blow-out in your photos than if you go earlier in the morning, because the sunshine will be directly above you. The light is so bright out in the desert, it’s better to go when it’s a little shady so you can photograph the signs in all their glory. I opted for the earliest tour on the schedule because I knew the tour group would probably be smaller then too. Getting up extra early is definitely worth it in this instance!
Being an Atomic gal, I’ve been obsessed with the Stardust sign for many moons, so seeing it irl was a big deal for me (told you I was a sign geek!) But I was thrilled to see they had two of the giant lamps from the old Aladdin hotel too, because I got the opportunity to visit before it got demolished in 1998. I proudly display one of the casino coin buckets in my studio – remember when slot machines spat out coins instead of printed tokens?! In case you’re wondering, that’s where Elvis and Priscilla got married in 1967, and we all love a good Elvis fact! They also have signs from the old Golden Nugget, Sahara, Riviera and the infamous Moulin Rouge which was the first integrated hotel in Sin City (this sign was so huge they’ve just spelt M Love out of the letters!) Keep your eye out for a small Liberace neon, because he is the crystal queen of the city. Oh! Three cats also live out in the yard, so be prepared for cute kitty pictures too. Never a dull moment!
Quite a few people opt to use the museum’s umbrellas when doing this tour to keep from getting burned. However, if you’re going to be a poser like me, wear factor 50 sunscreen (I never wear less as I don’t like to tan, but a high factor is a must for the desert!) And bring plenty of water because you’re going to be darn thursty out there, especially looking so goddamn sexy!
I’m already planning to go back to the Neon Museum next time I manage to get out to Vegas as they are constantly growing the collection and I’d love to see it at night. If you check in advance of your trip you may even be able to book a yoga class out there – they have some great events in the grounds sometimes so keep an eye on the website for updates. Just when you didn’t think there could be more reasons to plan a trip, amma right?!