The Neon Museum – the Las Vegas nonprofit dedicated to collecting and preserving the city’s historic neon signs, recently re-lit a Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Resort sign from 1978 that has been part of its Neon Boneyard collection since 2010. The Museum and Tropicana made the symbolic presentation to help preserve the legacy of the iconic property after its April 2 closure to make way for a new baseball stadium.

The piece of signage came from the property’s porte-cochere and was installed as part of a renovation in 1978. Designed by Jack Dubois and Raul Rodriguez, it was acquired by The Neon Museum in 2010 and now lives above the patio in front of the Museum Store. The tubing in the sign is over 75% original; meaning, the glass tubes have endured Las Vegas summers, winters, wind and rain. 

The partnership between The Neon Museum and Tropicana involved preserving the various aspects of the property through oral and visual efforts up until its closure. The museum installed RACHEL (Record and Collect Historical Experiences in Las Vegas) – an audio recording booth devoted to preserving stories of Las Vegas’ past – to gather tales of the property from employees, visitors and locals who were a part of Tropicana’s legacy. 

Las Vegas

Tropicana Sign Re-illuminated (The Neon Museum Las Vegas)

Additionally, select guest rooms and public areas were documented using Matterport – a cutting-edge platform that creates immersive 3D virtual tours of physical spaces – allowing users to explore spaces as if they were there in person.

The Tropicana opened its doors on April 4, 1957, and advertisements called it  “the Tiffany of the Strip” to reflect its opulence. The hotel was decked out in a tropical style emulating hotels in Miami and Cuba, both popular tourist destinations at the time. Performers like Siegfried & Roy, Wayne Newton, Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Lance Burton and Rhonda Fleming made appearances at the property.

In December 2021, a formal bid was submitted for the Tropicana to be the new site for the Oakland Athletics professional baseball stadium. An implosion is expected to follow at a later date.  

Just like the strip, the museum is ever-changing and evolving, with glitzy and faded nostalgic memories coming and going.

This week it was announced that the Mirage Hotel and Casino Siegfried & Roy made world famous will close on Wednesday, July 17 for reconstruction and reopen in 2027 as the new 700-foot tall Hard Rock Las Vegas. The original Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel neon guitar has been a permanent fixture at the museum. 

Las Vegas

Vegas Vickie lives on in the Circa Hotel (Michele Stueven)

There are no plans to move the guitar,” Aaron Berger, Executive Director of The Neon Museum tells L.A. Weekly.  “The Neon Museum has extended resources to preserve significant materials from The Mirage so this pivotal property’s history can live on. With these pieces protected and preserved, natives, locals, and visitors can celebrate the architectural feat that is the new Hard Rock property without mourning the loss of The Mirage.” 

The Neon Museum is open daily and includes an outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard that’s filled with some of Las Vegas’s most iconic neon signs. Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historical, arts and cultural enrichment. 

On its 2.27-acre campus, the museum has an outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard, the resting place for salvaged strip signs like the Moulin Rouge, the first desegregated hotel casino in Las Vegas, popular with many of the Black entertainers of the time, who would entertain at the other hotels and casinos and stay at the Moulin Rouge. It opened in 1955 and only survived for six months. The newest addition to the outdoor museum is a “Lost Vegas” sign designed and donated by filmmaker Tim Burton.

The museum collection also includes 14 restored signs installed as public art in downtown Las Vegas as part of the Las Vegas Blvd. improvement project.  Neons of forgotten and past motor hotels line blocks of  Las Vegas Boulevard, bringing back fond memories of family road trips and celebrating vintage Vegas history.  Vegas Vickie, Fremont Street’s iconic kicking neon cowgirl sign, was named “Sassy Sally” when she first hung over the entrance to the Glitter Gulch casino in 1980. Worse for wear, she was removed in 2017 and restored. Shiny and new, the massive neon is the centerpiece of the new Circa Hotel and Casino downtown, with a permanent home in the indoor atrium and immortalized next to the Vegas Vickie cocktail lounge.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Neon Museum (Michele Stueven)

Las Vegas

The original La Concha Motel (Courtesy Las Vegas Neon Museum)

The entrance to the museum is the former lobby of the La Concha Motel Lobby, designed by renowned L.A. Black architect Paul Revere Williams, who also designed numerous homes in Los Angeles as well as the Theme Building at LAX. Williams’ work in Vegas also included the Guardian Angel Cathedral (which still stands), the Royal Nevada Hotel and Carver Park, a housing tract in Henderson that provided affordable homes for hundreds of Black families.

When the La Concha Motel on the strip was destroyed in 2003, Williams’ Googie-style lobby was salvaged and moved downtown as the permanent home for the museum and looks just as it did when it first opened in 1961. Its neon sign has been restored and illuminates the boneyard.

The North Gallery is home to the stunning immersive audiovisual experience “Brilliant!” which uses technology to re-illuminate more than 40 nonoperational signs, accompanied by a soundtrack of iconic Vegas tunes.

Las Vegas

Courtesy Las Vegas Neon Museum






































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