Las Vegas Neon Boneyard — Photo Essay of Times Gone By

The Neon Boneyard
The Neon Boneyard
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Without a doubt, the highlight of our visit to Las Vegas last year was the guided tour of the Neon Museum’s Boneyard.

The tour is actually a superb introduction to the very colorful history of Las Vegas.

The museum houses discarded neon and incandescent signs from Vegas’ glory days.

The museum’s limited funds allow for the restoration of only a few signs each year.

The restored signs are displayed in the downtown Las Vegas block known as the “Fremont Experience.”

The rest of the collection — a hodgepodge of more than 150 historic signs — is on display at a two acre lot known as “The Boneyard.”

Stardust Sign
Volunteer Docent Welcomes Visitors
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Lido Sign
Lido Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Jackpot Motel Sign
Jackpot Motel Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz

There, you can find some of the most iconic signs of Las Vegas – Caesars Palace, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget  and the Stardust.

Binion's Sassy Sally
Binion’s Sassy Sally
Photo by Joel Shprentz

The hotels are mostly gone now, and all that’s left are the signs:  broken, rusty, and in ill-repair.

Algiers Hotel Sign
Algiers Hotel Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Girl Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Each sign has a story to tell, and the volunteer docents bring them to life.

Guided Tour of the Neon Boneyard
Guided Tour of the Neon Boneyard
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Duck Sign
Duck Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz

As travel writer Larry Olmsted observed in a recent article in Forbes magazine:

Name notwithstanding, the Neon Museum is not about neon, it is about the history of Las Vegas as told through its relics, in this case the neon (and incandescent bulb) signs that have ended up here, many from long gone establishments.

All Manner of Kitsch
All Manner of Kitsch
Photo by Joel Shprentz

At nearly every piece of art here, no matter how mundane, the tour guide has some colorful story worth hearing, one that illuminates the entire Las Vegas experience, then and now.   — Larry Olmsted

Fantasia
Fantasia
Photo by Joel Shprentz

In the summer, due to the intense heat, tours are scheduled in the morning and after dark when the signs are dramatically illuminated by colored lights.

Queen of Hearts Hotel
Queen of Hearts Hotel
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Starburst
Starburst
Photo by Joel Shprentz

A landmark of mid-century architecture, the relocated La Concha motel lobby now houses the Neon Museum.

Casino Sign
Casino Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz

The Neon Museum is open seven days a week. The museum visitors’ center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.

Mon Bel Ami Wedding Chapel
Mon Bel Ami Wedding Chapel
Photo by Joel Shprentz

To tour the museum’s Neon Boneyard exhibition area, you should sign up for a guided tour, well in advance.

Aladdin's Lamp
Aladdin’s Lamp
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Daytime tours of the Neon Museum are $18; evening tours are $25, with discounts for seniors, students, and military.  You can purchase tickets online from the Neon Museum.  Advance Reservations are highly recommended.

Showboat
Showboat
Photo by Joel Shprentz

The tours sell out quickly; a very limited number of walk-in tickets can be purchased at the museum, day of and in person.

Barbary Coast Sign
Barbary Coast Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Tin Man
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Fox Theatre Sign
Fox Theatre Sign
Photo by Joel Shprentz
Binion's Horseshoe
Binion’s Horseshoe
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Do any of these signs bring back memories for you?

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6 thoughts on “Las Vegas Neon Boneyard — Photo Essay of Times Gone By

  1. Thanks so much for this post. I have traveled pretty widely, including to remote areas of Newfoundland, Petra in Jordan, autonomous regions of rural China, glaciers in Alaska and volcanoes in Hawaii. I have even been to the casinos of Monte Carlo in Monaco, where my dad hit the jackpot playing the slots. But I have never been to Las Vegas. Somehow a trip there keeps getting postponed. Now I have one more reason to go to this iconic and very American city. Thanks for a great post.

  2. TWA44 — If you do ever have a chance to go, there is a cute show that opens with a Boneyard scene. It’s called “Las Vegas: The Show” and it is a revue of acts and entertainers from Las Vegas’ past. Tickets are pricey but you can usually find discounts from various ticket booths. The corniest part of the show was actually when we were waiting in line to get in to the theatre and we were approached by a Liberace impersonator. Only in Vegas!

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