Advertisement

Busted neon signs gain new life in sound-and-light show at Las Vegas' Neon Museum

Busted neon signs gain new life in sound-and-light show at Las Vegas' Neon Museum
A film clip of legendary pianist Liberace is projected onto the top of a sign from the entertainer's former museum in Las Vegas. (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

The neon tubing may be broken and the light bulbs shattered, but a new tech-driven show at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas is bringing some vintage neon signs back to life in a different way.

The museum has ramped up its visitor experience with "Brilliant!," a sound and light show based on some of the city's most famous neon signs that takes guests on a trip to the past.

Advertisement
At the Neon Museum, designer Craig Winslow of Portland, Ore., explains how he used digital mapping to create "Brilliant!"
At the Neon Museum, designer Craig Winslow of Portland, Ore., explains how he used digital mapping to create "Brilliant!" (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

"People have this visceral, emotional reaction to the memories popping in their head … of these signs that would otherwise never have a chance to shine again," designer Craig Winslow said. "Suddenly, they're all able to dance and dazzle."

Advertisement

Winslow used projection mapping software to create what he described as an "augmented reality experience." Lasers cast their light onto more than 40 discarded signs from Las Vegas legends such as the Horseshoe, Lady Luck and Stardust hotel-casinos. The signs have been sitting in storage, in some cases for decades.

Even though bulbs are broken or missing, the signs appear to glow again thanks to lasers that have been programmed using digital mapping.
Even though bulbs are broken or missing, the signs appear to glow again thanks to lasers that have been programmed using digital mapping. (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

"These signs are completely broken," Winslow said. "They're un-powered. A lot of them don't have bulbs in them or have broken [neon] tubes. We're able to bring the signs to life, and in a very emotional way allow them a chance to shine again and to see their souls come alive again."

An immersive sound system syncs music to the illumination of long-dormant signs.

As the Lady Luck sign lights up, Frank Sinatra is heard singing "Luck Be a Lady." In what appears much like a hologram, Liberace is seen playing a piano atop the sign that once stood outside his long-closed museum.

Advertisement
The Golden Nugget sign plays a part in "Brilliant!"
The Golden Nugget sign plays a part in "Brilliant!" (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

According to Winslow, the 30-minute, after-dark shows highlight an alternative use for digital mapping.

"What I'm essentially doing is assigning digital content to specifically and precisely match up to the signs and the tubes," he said. "Through technology, we're able to accomplish something that has some beauty, love and emotion in it."

During a performance of "Brilliant!" at Las Vegas' Neon Museum, visitors take a selfie in front of a magically illuminated sign from the long-gone Stardust resort.
During a performance of "Brilliant!" at Las Vegas' Neon Museum, visitors take a selfie in front of a magically illuminated sign from the long-gone Stardust resort. (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

"It has a very magical feel to it," he said.

Performances begin at 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays in the museum's North Gallery, across a side street from the well-known Boneyard where many more signs are displayed.

Visitors to the Neon Museum's North Gallery are treated to a show that brings discarded signs back to life.
Visitors to the Neon Museum's North Gallery are treated to a show that brings discarded signs back to life. (Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Tickets for "Brilliant!" cost $23 for adults and $15 for locals, military, seniors and students. Admission to the museum is priced separately.

Info: The Neon Museum, 770 Las Vegas Blvd. North, (702) 387-6366

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement