Las Vegas Sun

May 22, 2018

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Neon Museum’s latest growth spurt involves purchase of neighboring building

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The Neon Boneyard is shown at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.

Some relics of Las Vegas’ past will have a new home soon thanks, in part, to a six-figure grant that’s helping the Neon Museum expand its footprint.

The Las Vegas City Council approved a $425,000 grant Wednesday from the Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial to the Neon Museum, a nonprofit known for its exhibits of iconic Las Vegas signs.

The Neon Museum, located just north of downtown in the so-called Cultural Corridor, is putting the grant toward purchasing a next-door building and 0.27 acres of land, said Rob McCoy, the museum’s chief executive officer. The total sales price is $850,000.

Another $200,000 will be spent demolishing the building and prepping the land for an expansion of the “Neon Boneyard,” where 20 to 30 retired signs will take residence, McCoy said. A few of those colorful gems include portions of the old Stardust sign, the Riviera stars and signage from the recently shuttered Willy and Jose’s Cantina at Sam’s Town.

McCoy said he expects the outdoor expansion to be complete by the end of February.

“It will be curated just like the main boneyard is now,” he said. “It will tell a story.”

It’s not the only addition to the quirky museum’s offerings. The nonprofit also is opening a museum store, which will sell gift items and souvenirs, on its existing property Dec. 23.

“We’re moving forward with expanding this museum,” McCoy said. “I think we’ve only started to scratch the surface of what we can truly be.”

The Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial has a grant program that supports history-oriented community initiatives. The revenue is generated from the Nevada Centennial license plate, a specialty plate that boasts the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign designed by Betty Whitehead Willis in 1959.

The Neon Museum, founded two decades ago, fits into the commission’s mission because it’s dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting old Las Vegas signs — some of which have become famous — for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment, officials said.

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