The Neon Museum Grand Opening: What glowed in Vegas, stays in Vegas

Las Vegas’ New Neon Nirvana
The rehabilitated La Concha Motel Lobby is the new Visitor Center at the Neon Museum Boneyard.
Located in downtown Las Vegas, the Neon Museum is home to the largest collection of neon signage in the world.  Officially opened on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, the new Neon Boneyard and its Visitor Center, a Mid-Century Modern masterpiece with a distinctive seashell shape, celebrates Las Vegas’ rich history through its most iconic art form - the neon sign.  As consulting preservation architect for the project, Chattel is proud to play a role in preserving Las Vegas’ colorful history.

The Neon Boneyard is home to over 150 neon signs.
Chattel managed implementation of National Scenic Byways Program grant funding and worked closely with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, Federal Highway Administration, and Nevada Department of Transportation to successfully complete Section 106 environmental review for this project encompassing rehabilitation of the La Concha Motel lobby, which now houses the Visitor Center.  An architectural masterpiece designed by famed African-American architect Paul Revere Williams, the lobby was constructed in 1961 on Las Vegas Boulevard South next to the Riviera Hotel.  It was saved from demolition in 2005, carefully cut into eight pieces and moved in 2006, and reassembled at the Neon Boneyard in 2007.  

La Concha Motel on the Las Vegas Strip in 1963 (Source of photo: Nevada State Museum).

La Concha Motel Lobby disassembled at donor site before relocation in 2006.
The new Visitor Center now features new furnishings inspired by 1960s designs and new landscaping that closely resembles the original scheme at the donor site.  Exemplifying the Googie design concept of “building as sign,” the lobby maintains its relationship with Las Vegas Boulevard.  Chattel also collaborated on the design of an addition for offices and museum support spaces with Westar Architectural Group/Nevada, Inc.  

The new Visitor Center inside the rehabilitated La Concha Motel lobby.

Chattel consulted on design of the new addition housing offices and support spaces.
More than 150 neon signs, dating from the 1930s through 1990s are displayed within the Neon Boneyard, a two-acre outdoor exhibition space.  The collection includes un-restored vintage signs from some of the city’s most famous properties, including the Moulin Rouge, Desert Inn, Flamingo and Stardust Hotels, alongside those from various other bygone restaurants, hotels and businesses.  

The restored La Concha Motel neon sign.
As visitors increasingly seek to rediscover “old” Las Vegas, Chattel is pleased to participate in Downtown Las Vegas’ renaissance.  By preserving the beauty and craftsmanship of a distinctly modern art form, the Neon Museum aims to provide a significant cultural and economic impact to the downtown community and become a catalyst for ongoing revitalization.  As Robert Chattel stated in an article in the Los Angeles Times, "This neon helps people understand the history of Las Vegas, that is was not necessarily the Strip we know today." 

"C" is for Chattel!