Neon museum plugs in

Jun 18, 2002 8:57 AM

Nearly 100 historic casino signs are being assembled for the multi-faceted Neon Museum downtown.

About 30 are available for viewing off the Fremont Street Experience and at the newly opened Neonopolis mall. The rest are staged at a "bone yard" off Las Vegas Boulevard, just south of Cashman Field.

"We’ll have signs from just about every major casino except the Mint and Thunderbird,’’ said Richard Hooker, senior cultural specialist for the city. There are about 150 signs in all.

Young Electric Sign Co. ”” the city’s No. 1 sign maker ”” is adding to the collection this month, trucking dozens more neon gems to the bone yard. Among the more recent donations: an old Golden Nugget façade and a small parking lot sign from the Dunes, one of the few remnants extant from the fallen Strip giant.

There’s also signage from the ancient Royal Nevada Casino, which gave way to the Stardust. On a more modern note, Fitzgerald’s recently retired Mr. O’Lucky was just put out to pasture.

But bone yard viewing is limited for now. "You can drive by or, if you have a group, you can call ahead for a tour,’’ Hooker says. (For information, call 229-5366.)

Ultimately, city historians hope to set up new satellite venues along the Third Street pedestrian mall and at the old Post Office on Stewart Avenue. A portion of the city’s undeveloped 61-acre parcel west of the Plaza hotel-casino might also be reserved for a bit of neon nostalgia, officials say.

While getting its exhibit plans in order, the city invites any sign donations. Historic icons, not just those from casinos, are welcome.

"We’re looking to fill holes in the collection. We’re also interviewing for an executive director and applying to get the museum accredited,’’ Hooker said.

Meantime, the illuminating collections at FSE and Neonopolis are on display for free viewing 24 hours a day. And here’s a tip for you photo buffs: Go after dark.

BONEYARD ”” Old signs are stored at YESCO sign company.