The Neon Museum: Bringing Las Vegas History Into the Future

The Neon Museum: Bringing Las Vegas History Into the Future

By Maria Phelan


One of the coolest, most authentic experiences in Downtown Las Vegas just keeps getting better. The Neon Museum, officially opened in October 2012, is the historic soul of this unique city, and it’s making room for new events and programming this month.

The Neon Museum Boneyard is home to signs from legendary Las Vegas casinos and resorts including Caesars Palace, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget and the Stardust. The two-acre museum campus includes: the visitors center; the Neon Boneyard, which houses more than 150 historic signs from the 1930s to today; and the adjacent Neon Boneyard Park.

The museum’s visitors center is located inside the former lobby of the historic La Concha Motel, originally constructed on the Strip in 1961 and carefully relocated to its current site at the museum in 2006.

In addition to museum campus located at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North, The Neon Museum Urban Gallery features nine signs, including the Hacienda Horse and Rider, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Bow & Arrow Hotel and the Silver Slipper, that have been restored and installed around Downtown Las Vegas.

This month, the museum’s offerings will expand even more with the opening of an event space in a renovated former storage lot. The space will feature a dedicated area for weddings—adorned with the Lady Luck sign, among others—and additional space for educational programming, events and photo shoots. Staff is hoping the space will accommodate up to 200 people for weddings and other events.

Danielle Kelly, the museum’s executive director, said the new event space is something the facility needs. There have been many wedding requests for the Neon Museum in the past year and a half, but couples were forced to buy out the entire museum to accommodate their plans. That problem has been remedied.

“We really want to make a space with beautiful signs where people can have events and get married in the Boneyard setting, and make it more feasible for people financially,” Kelly said. “We’re super excited to offer that. And there are tons of awesome signs in there that no one has seen yet.”

Kelly also said the Neon Museum has received great response to programming for families and kids. Another big benefit of activating the former storage lot is providing a space for more educational, youth-oriented programming, while still offering tours in the Boneyard.

The event space also will feature new photography opportunities, including seminars for photographers. Kids and family programs are expected to begin this fall and will include a Junior Interpreters program, where children lead tours for other children.

Additionally, the Neon Museum has partnered with REI in the past for orienteering classes, which will continue and grow in the new space, as well as other returning programming like Star Gazing in the Boneyard, a partnership with the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.

Since the museum officially opened in October 2012, Kelly and her team have made adjustments to the museum’s operations and exceeded projected visitor numbers while growing its staff and continually adding programming. Because the museum had been operating on a limited basis for years before the official opening, the staff walked a fine line of balancing expectations.

“We benefitted from the fact that the museum had a pre-existing fan base. [The questions was] how do we maximize the awareness we already have, and let our existing fans know that we’re open in a completely new and different way?” Kelly said. “So many people loved the Neon Boneyard the way it was, and there was this concern that it was going to be this really sterile experience, and we worked really hard to make the space safe, to make it support a guided tour experience, a more formal experience, without losing all of what made it so special before.”

When the Neon Museum officially opened, the intent was to provide general admission with a self-guided experience where guests would simply walk through in the same way they would at any other museum.
The staff quickly realized the guided tours, which had been given in the years before the official opening, were incredibly important to understanding the significance of the Neon Museum’s collection and mission.

“The guided tours minimized the number of visitors we can have on tours compared to self-guided tours, but the trade-off is we really believe in the quality of the experience that we provide,” Kelly said. “We felt it’s important to tell the story, and the oral history of the tour … It has an interactivity and allows for layers of education that are really wonderful. It makes our capacity smaller, but people leave with a deeper understanding of why the signs are important, and that’s priceless.”

The hour-long guided tours of the Neon Museum are available seven days a week. Due to the museum’s popularity, booking tours in advance is recommended. Snapshot photography is allowed on the tour, but professional photo shoots must be booked separately.

Day tours are $18 for general admission; seniors, students, active military, veterans and Nevada residents are $12. Night tours are $25 for general admission; seniors, students, active military, veterans and Nevada residents are $22. Tour availability changes seasonally, and current tour times are listed online.

Due to the broken glass and rusty metal in the Boneyard, day tours are not recommended for children under age 10, and night tours are not recommended for children under age 12.
For more information or to book a tour, visit