The Cultural Corridor in downtown Las Vegas has been shrinking.
The Reed Whipple Center, once home to the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, has been vacant since 2016; the Discovery Children’s Museum moved to Symphony Park years ago; and the Las Vegas Library closed in April.
But that contraction is about to change.
The Neon Museum recently announced that it is expanding to the Reed Whipple Center, nearly doubling its size.
Rob McCoy, the CEO of the museum, explained that expanding to the Whipple Center will allow the museum to move some of the signs that are currently being stored on property owned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal back to the museum.
The RJ property is also home to museum administrative staff, which will be moved to the Whipple Center.
McCoy said the new building will allow them to showcase indoor exhibits for the first time, including a demonstration exhibit of how neon lights are made.
"And then one other thing that our visitors are telling us they want to see and that is a neon bending workshop," he said. "Folks want to see neon being made and being blown and being filled with the gas."
Across the street at the famous boneyard, McCoy said since they can't expand out anymore, they will be expanding up.
"We're going to be in construction in July on 30-foot grids that will line the perimeter wall of the boneyard and then we'll be able to attach signs to that 30-foot grid," he said.
McCoy said it will remind many people of the old Fremont Street, which was once known as Glitter Gulch.
McCoy said they will be working with the city to make sure guest safety is addressed. He also said a major new redesign of the boulevard in the area will help.
"You're going to see lots of landscaping, lots of walkable sidewalks and you're going to have a much easier time crossing from the Reed Whipple side of the Neon Museum to the boneyard side of the museum," he said.
As for paying for the redevelopment of the Whipple Center, McCoy said they'll be able to pay for most of it with ticket sales. The museum got the building through a deal with the city of Las Vegas, which has owned the building since it stopped being a meeting house for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the '60s.
McCoy believes the changes to the Whipple Center and other currently unused buildings in the area will bring "life and light" to a challenged neighborhood.
Also, coming to the museum is an exhibit by director Tim Burton. McCoy said Burton contacted the museum about displaying some of his art, which is stored in warehouses in Los Angeles.
"What he's got planned for his exhibition here at the Neon Museum is going to be incredible," he said. "It involves both large pieces but it also involves an immersive show."
Rob McCoy, CEO, Neon Museum.
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