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Desert Companion

History in the Making

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Neon Museum
Photography by Brent Holmes

It might be time to officially retire that groany old maxim about Las Vegas imploding instead of preserving its blah blah blah. In recent years, there seems to have been a shift in our thinking: The idea that Las Vegas’ built history is valuable, meaningful, and worth saving isn’t just the preserve of monomaniacal historians and academics anymore. The Neon Museum deserves a lot of credit for driving this shift. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1996, has not only saved more than 200 neon signs from oblivion. It’s hungrily evolved itself into something much more than the sum of its many parts: museum, event space, education center, pop-up art and design think tank, and social media magnet that beams visual doses of Vegas to eyeballs around the world. More recently, it’s launched a light show, Brilliant!, acquired the historic Reed Whipple Cultural Center building for further expansion, and announced Lost Vegas, an exhibition of director Tim Burton’s fine art that opens October 15. Get an eyeful: Historic preservation never looked this good.

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