Neon Museum sets new highs for attendance, revenue

The future is bright for the Neon Museum.

Four years after opening, the museum that showcases Las Vegas’ neon legacy in casino and motel signs set a record for attendance and revenue for its fiscal year ending in June.

The museum is expected to surpass 100,000 visitors between July 1 and June 2017, and that success means neon fans will get even more.

In addition to its regular guided tour in its main collection area, the museum is adding a self-guided weekday tour starting Sept. 19 in its north boneyard, which now is closed to the public. That is where the museum currently holds private events on the weekend.

Neon Museum income, Las Vegas

Later this month, the museum will announce plans to build indoor gallery where visitors can see a display of documents and other artifacts. There is no room for such a display now at the museum, 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North. It has a visitor center in the former La Concha Motel lobby.

“We’re bursting at the seams in terms of attendance as well as room for more signs,” said Rob McCoy, president and CEO of the Neon Museum. “It’s the only museum of its kind in the world. We have some of the greatest visual artifacts of the 20th century. That word has now traveled around the world.”

The museum attendance has grown steadily since it opened in late October 2012. It started with 38,561 in that abbreviated first year and followed up with 74,888 in fiscal year 2014. It jumped to 85,163 last year and increased 14 percent to 97,467 in fiscal year 2016. Some 90 percent of museum visitors are tourists.

“The majority of folks who come to Vegas are looking for something different to do outside the shopping and dining,” McCoy said. “They want something a little more cultural, and we’re one of the first stops on their list.”

The museum has a collection of more than 500 signs, which includes full signs and parts of signs. About 70 percent of them are from casinos, 20 percent from motels and 10 percent from businesses. Many are from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Visitors can’t get enough of that history, which is why it’s difficult to get a ticket to the seven-days-a-week, 10 daily guided summer tours of 20 people, McCoy said. There are 20 one-hour tours a day starting Sept. 19.

The added tours should further boost the revenue of the nonprofit museum, which brought in $2.5 million in fiscal year 2016, about 95 percent of it from ticket sales. It was $1.83 million in 2014 and $2.1 million last year. The revenue covers operating expenses.

Signs from the Golden Nugget, Sahara, Stardust, Sands and Desert Inn — all of the famous signs from the Rat Pack era with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra are a big draw, McCoy said.

“It’s what made Las Vegas famous, and it’s what visitors to Las Vegas have in their mind as their view of Las Vegas,” he said.

Because the word has gotten out on social media about the museum and its tours, visitors who don’t buy a ticket in advance have been mostly out of luck in getting tour tickets when they walk in, McCoy said.

That’s sparked the plan to open the north end of the 2-acre museum grounds to accommodate visitors who will get handouts giving a history of the signs rather than the guided tour, McCoy said.

“We’ve been doing it a couple of days a week for the last three weeks, and it’s something we think has legs,” McCoy said. “It’s been a big hit. It’s totally different from the other collection. We’re pretty excited about that.”

The north boneyard has casino signs from the Pioneer Club, Lady Luck, Golden Nugget, Binion’s, and O’Sheas to name a few of the properties.

“When we first began, we would have to call and ask for someone to donate a sign,” McCoy said. “We no longer have to do that. When a building is ready to get shut down or be imploded, we’re one of the first calls they make. They want us to have the signs.”

The Neon Museum obtained the Riviera signs in its collection, including one that is electrified and on display in the Neon Boneyard, in the spring of 2015.

Business Videos
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA/Boring Company Press Conference
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced a collaboration with Elon Musk's The Boring Company to develop and operate an autonomous people mover system for the Las Vegas Convention Center District.
International Pizza Expo includes green and gluten free
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included companies focused on vegan and gluten free, and plant-based pizza boxes. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo kicks off in Las Vegas
The first day of the International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center is everything Pizza. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
T-Mobile program aids guests with sensory needs
A program at T-Mobile Arena is designed to provide a more sensory friendly experience for guests.
Photo Booth Expo
Danielle May talks about how Simple Booth transformed her Volkswagen bus into a business.
Nevada Gaming Commission's highest fines
The highest fines assessed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, according to commission Chairman Tony Alamo: 1) Wynn Resorts Ltd., $20 million, 2019 2) CG Technology (then known as Cantor G&W Holdings), $5.5 million, 2014 3) The Mirage, $5 million ($3 million fine, $2 million compensatory payment), 2003 4) Stardust, $3 million, 1985 5) Santa Fe Station, $2.2 million ($1.5 million fine, $700,000 compensatory payment), 2005 6) Las Vegas Sands, $2 million, 2016 7) CG Technology, $1.75 million, 2018 8) CG Technology, $1.5 million (also $25,000 in escrow for underpaid patrons), 2016 9) Caesars Entertainment, $1.5 million, 2015 10) Imperial Palace, $1.5 million, 1989 11) Peppermill Casinos, $1 million, 2014
Tiny Pipe Home vs Shipping Crate
A Tiny pipe home was displayed at the International Builders Show this week in Las Vegas.
Auto repair shortage affects Las Vegas
The auto repair industry is facing a national shortage of workers.
Franchising industry booming
Experts say Las Vegas is a hotbed for the franchise industry.
Africa Love owner talks about his store in Las Vegas
Mara Diakhate, owner of Africa Love, gift and decor store, talks about his store in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing