Neon Museum Welcomes Classic Plaza Sign to Boneyard

The Neon Museum hosted its first sign lighting in two years to unveil a new sign in its collection.

Technically, it’s a new old sign, but you know what we mean.

The classic, newly-refurbished sign from Plaza was illuminated at the attraction on Sep. 14, 2022 with all the requisite hoopla.

All but one of the bulbs works, but the sign blinks, so it’s hard to capture all the bulbs lit at the same time. The one that didn’t work was in the “P”—second row down, five bulbs from the right. And, yes, we should probably seek professional help.

Plaza and Neon Museum VIPs were on-hand for the lighting ceremony, including Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel and Neon Museum Executive Director, Aaron Berger. See video below.

The Plaza sign now on display at the Neon Museum was designed by legendary artist Charles Barnard.

Barnard also designed the iconic Vegas Vickie sign (now a centerpiece of downtown’s Circa casino, look for Barnard’s signature on the bottom of her boot), the sign for Sassy Sally’s and many others.

Barnard’s legacy includes designs for The Strat, Golden Nugget, Mirage, Flamingo, Caesars Palace and Stardust.

We would like to get our hands on Barnard’s book, “The Magic Sign,” but would need to take out a second mortgage.

Here’s some video from the lighting ceremony.

 

The story of how the Plaza sign ended up at the Neon Museum is entertaining and somewhat random.

This sign went up at the Plaza (originally Union Plaza) in 1983, the year the hotel got its south tower.

In 2011, the sign came down during a renovation and was put into storage.

An employee at Plaza apparently shared a photo of the sign (just the “laza”) and tagged the Neon Museum, suggesting they save the sign.

Following conversations between Jonathan Jossel and the Neon Museum’s Aaron Berger, it was decided not only would Plaza donate the sign, but they’d foot the bill to restore it.

Today’s bulbs are a smidge more energy-efficient than they were in 1971.

Unreported elsewhere: The cost of the sign refurbishment was just shy of $50,000.

That investment is a credit to Plaza, as they could’ve just donated the sign as-is, but totally worth it to have the sign light up again.

Hartlauer Signs got the gig and refurbished the 1,500-pound sign. The Plaza sign at the Neon Museum is nine feet tall, 18 feet wide.

The sign overhaul took more than 100 hours, and “included repairing damaged sheet metal to return the sign to its original shape and repainting the nearly 40-year-old sign. Hartlauer also replaced 576 light bulbs and installed 14 new border neon units around the Plaza letters.”

The donation of the Plaza sign to the Neon Museum arrives on the heels of several announcements by the hotel about new project in the works, including a new Carousel bar in the hotel’s porte cochere, an expansion to Oscar’s Steakhouse, a smoke-free casino area and a Pinkbox Doughnuts outlet moving into the casino’s former party pit space. Read more.

Inside baseball: Longtime Vegas fans will note the giant switch used at the Neon Museum ceremony is the same one used by Fremont Street Experience to light the Christmas tree on Fremont Street each year.

The last sign lighting at Neon Museum was its Moulin Rouge sign in Sep. 2020.

Moulin Rouge opened in 1955, the first major Las Vegas casino to be racially integrated. As the kids say, Las Vegas was racist AF. We still have a long way to go.

Before that, it was the Hard Rock guitar sign, in early 2019.

Yes, we fixed some of the neon in Photoshop. OCD is an actual thing.

The Neon Museum is a Las Vegas must-do, and strolling through the attraction is like being in a time machine.

Make sure to catch the “Brilliant” show, where 40 vintage signs are brought back to life through projection mapping. Here’s our take on it.

If you don’t get a little misty-eyed during “Brilliant,” you may be an automaton.

Props to Plaza for ponying up to refurbish its classic sign, and ditto the Neon Museum for giving it a place to sparkle again.