Las Vegas is a fascinating place (and a landscape photography paradise), full of contrasts and constant transformation. I’ll soon dedicate a post to this city but I first wanted to cover something a bit different about this crazy place.
For decades, as soon as a casino is demolished, a new one is born. Memories and soul of Vegas (yes, believe it or not, it has a soul 😎) continue to shine bright at the beautiful Neon Boneyard Museum, a must-see place if you are in Vegas.
You’ll discover an amazing collection of vintage neon signs, and feel almost as if those vintage casinos were still operating…
The Neon Museum is a great non-profit organization collecting, preserving, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs from old casinos and other businesses since 1996. The 2-acre campus hosts the main galleries of restored signs and the North Gallery with many other unrestored signs.
The signs are considered locally to be an important testimony of the history and culture of the city. Beyond that, it is clearly a photographer‘s paradise, so my list below is a sample of the vintage signs that I hope will engage you to go and see this fantastic place!
The Stardust opened in 1958. Its huge sign could be seen from over 3 miles away (it was actually the tallest in the world in the 60s) and was an icon of Vegas. When it closed in 2006, the place was blown down with fireworks and a grand, explosive ceremony. Welcome to Vegas!
This was a private museum collection hosting items like stage costumes, cars, jewelry, and decorated pianos. The collection is now housed at Thriller Villa, the former Las Vegas home of Michael Jackson.
Near to the Liberace sign, there is a piece of the Aladin sign, a hotel that was on the strip, on Flamingo Road. Elvis married Priscilla in a room in 1967 in this place 😊! It was demolished in 1998 to make room for a new Aladdin resort. During sunset hours, the changing light is an amazing game field for photography.
Fitzgeralds is another famous casino that operated on Fremont Street from 1987 to 2012. This is one of the signs that the museum received in full working order, for the pleasure of the visitor’s eyes!
The Red Barn
This was, in the 70s, among the first openly gay bars in Las Vegas on Tropicana Avenue. The colors on the sign at twilight are amazing!
There are not only casino signs in the museum. For example, next to the Red Barn, you can find “Andy”, a cool part of the signage from the Anderson Dairy in the 1950s.
The Yuca Motel in the 50s was located on Las Vegas Boulevard, north of Sahara Avenue, near to where the Stratosphere is located. This sign is partially restored and gives some cool photo opportunities as well.
The quick wedding tradition that makes Vegas famous is nothing new! In the museum, you can see a vintage sign from the old Ali Baba Wedding Center on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, near the airport.
This is one of my favorite vintage sign in the Museum. The Sahara (on the strip, near Sahara Avenue, obviously) is an iconic historical place that operated from 1952 to 2011. It was then closed and renamed, and it was recently born again as Sahara Las Vegas! The old sign looks better than the new one, in my opinion 😊.
The Riviera has shown the way, as it was the first tall building on the Strip in 1955! When the hotel closed in 2015, the sign was donated to the museum…
This 1960s sign is from Jerry’s Nugget Casino, another iconic place in North Las Vegas. This boneyard is the most colorful that I know of!
Billard player and Stener Cleaner
Keep exploring and you’ll see many more great signs and photography opportunities. For example, note the Billiards player from the old Pocket Lounge and the Stener Cleaner signs. This dancing, animated sign (designed by the owner’s daughter) is still alive in the Museum!
The North Gallery also contains many great, unrestored signs. Lady Luck, for example, was one of the icons of downtown Las Vegas for over 40 years (since 1964). But the economic crisis in 2006 generated its closure…
The museum, unfortunately, does not allow cameras (only phone or tablet) during guest hours, but they offer photo walks and portrait hours where cameras are allowed – check on their web site. This place is a must-see, especially if you’re a photographer with many more signs than what I have shown you, and it keeps evolving as Vegas continues to transform! You can find many photography prints for sale on the web site but the one from the Museum are just editorial