Editorial: Museum of Neon Art will shine downtown

Glendale art lovers and civic boosters alike can be excused this week for having a certain glow about them: At long last, the Museum of Neon Art has been given the green light to begin work on its new home. On Tuesday, the City Council approved a $1.6-million contract to revamp the city-owned structure at 216 S. Brand Blvd. into a luminous, glass-sheathed light-box of a museum.

Those familiar with the project know all too well that the path has not been smooth. The museum, founded in 1981, moved out of its downtown Los Angeles digs in June 2011, lured by the promise of an improved property here financed with redevelopment money.

Then, a year ago, state lawmakers ended redevelopment agencies to close a multibillion-dollar state budget gap, much to the dismay of local officials. It also put the museum’s future at risk.

But by the end of 2012 a state Department of Finance oversight committee recommended the project’s approval, and the money was allocated to Glendale to complete needed renovations and other improvements.

It should be noted that MONA officials have hardly sat idle during this time, actively fundraising to reach a $2.7-million goal they say will go toward a gift shop, classrooms and offices.

This unique, major museum will be an exciting anchor to Glendale’s cultural arts district, bounded on the north by the iconic Alex Theatre. The district will attract tourists — and their wallets — and hopefully enhance the city’s reputation among those deciding where to start new business ventures or to purchase houses.

Let there be neon.

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