Aaron Berger, Executive Director of the Neon Museum Las Vegas, the United States. Photo © Courtesy of the museum
1.What is your museum about and what is your work there?
The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas neon signs, the art form synonymous with Las Vegas, for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment.
As executive director of the Neon Museum, my goal is to promote the preservation of these national treasures as significant pieces of artistic and historical importance as well as to create educational programming to tell the many unique stories of Las Vegas – its people, businesses and communities – through these iconic signs in an engaging and impactful way.
2.What is the impact on your digital activity? Do you have tips to share with your colleagues?
To enable people to enjoy the Neon Museum from home during the height of the pandemic, we created a virtual 360-degree tour of the main collection in the Neon Boneyard. We also created a 360-degree self-guided, virtual exhibition of the artwork created by our 2020 artist in residence.
Now that travel has resumed and people are coming back in person to visit the museum, we are looking at innovative ways to use virtual tours for educaitonal purposes.
The museum is also very active on multiple social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok to share the stories and experiences a visitor can enjoy during their visit. Through these channels we reach a wide audience that spans multiple age groups, ethnicities, and geographies.
© The Neon Museum Las Vegas
3.What advice would you give a visitor to fully discover your museum?
The Neon Museum offers general admission to its Neon Boneyard during the daytime and guided tours in the evening when about two dozen signs are illiuminated and the rest of the 250-plus sign collection is dramatically lit from the ground.
This provides visitors with two unique ways to see the collection. Daytime admission provides visitors the ability to see the signs up close and each with the same amount of (sun)light. Available in both English and Spanish, our guided tours in the evening best showcase the impressive neon glow of the restored signs.
Visitors should also see our 360-degree immersive audiovisual experience, Brilliant! Jackpot in the North Gallery. The one-of-a-kind experience uses projection mapping to reanimate, reilluminate and re-electrify unrestored, non-working and in some cases broken signs.
Incorporating archival video footage, the show transports guests directly into Las Vegas’ history, where static signs come to life while accompanied by music from some of the entertainment industry’s most storied performers.
Among its educational elements, the North Gallery is home to the monumental Las Vegas Luminaries mural that pays tribute to the diverse communities and lesser-known individuals who helped shape and have significantly impacted Las Vegas cultural history.
4.What are the future projects of your museum?
I am most excited about expanding our education programming. For example, we plan to launch new tours in 2022 that focus on specific historical angles as told through our collection, like the experiences of the Black, LGBTQ, and Hispanic communities. These tours could be selected by visitors who have a specific interest in taking a deeper dive into the stories and histories of certain groups and communities.
I also hope to launch a program that enables visitors to see neon being made so they can better appreciate the complexities of the craft. Most people know how a painting is made but they don’t know how neon is bent, blown, gassed, and electrified to create its unique shapes and colors.
The Neon Museum Las Vegas, Nevada, United States preserves the casino signs and other activities and the restored lobby was of La Concha Motel, opened in 2012. The YESCO – Young Electric Sign Company has preserved most of these old neon for a long time. which for the people and institutions of Las Vegas are considered not only works of art, but also very important to the local culture. The museum was founded in 1996 in collaboration between the Allied Arts Council of Southern Nevada and the city of Las Vegas; is an independent non-profit organization and is located on Las Vegas Boulevard N and includes the Neon Boneyard and the North Gallery.
“Lost Vegas: Tim Burton” was an art exhibition by director Tim Burton held from October 15, 2019 to February 15, 2020 and was Burton’s American premiere since 2009 which included various installations: neon signs, sculptures, photographs, poems and dioramas. For the show, Burton drew inspiration from memories of when he was a child in Las Vegas with his parents and from his films, including Mars Attacks!, which was filmed in Las Vegas, Beetlejuice, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories and other unrealized projects by the director. Aaron Berger has been director of the Neon Museum Las Vegas since 2021.