It takes a lot of time, money and skill to restore an old neon sign to its original flamboyant splendor. It took 18 years for the Neon Museum to refurbish and refit the 13 illuminated signs in its collection. So acquiring two perfectly restored neon signs in just over 24 hours is a lucky roll, indeed.
Signs belonging to Jerry’s Nugget and Liberace Museum marquees were already a part of the Neon Museum’s collection—just sitting in the Boneyard dust, waiting for their moment to shine. Now they will join La Concha, the Silver Slipper and others as part of the proud, the few, the illuminated.
Thursday morning, while most of Vegas was hitting the snooze button, workers at YESCO put the refurbished Jerry’s Nugget sign on a truck and drove it down the Strip to its new home. The sign’s restoration was sponsored by the casino as part of their 50th anniversary celebration—Jerry’s Nugget itself is still dealing blackjack and serving up prime rib, just over a mile away from the museum—and it now looks just as it did when it glowed over the north end of the Strip. The once-peeling red paint has been redone, its shattered glass elements have been replaced … and now, the sign’s neon letters and light bulb-studded giant gold nugget are back to pristine condition.
Liberace arrived Friday morning, looking stunning despite the early hour. Workers from Jones Sign used a crane to lift the enormous, Baroque-curved sign into place. It had once proudly adorned the Liberace Museum complex on Tropicana, but its tubes had dimmed and its glitter had dulled. The black-framed, hot pink-neon swirling script and gold-trimmed silhouette of a candelabra-topped piano is now back to its “too much of a good thing” glory. The sign’s restoration was sponsored by the Shulman Family Foundation.
Vegas PBS is currently producing a documentary on the restoration of both signs, which will air on October 27. We don’t know which signs the Neon Museum is hoping to restore next, but we’re crossing our fingers for the elaborately curlicued Yucca Motel, or perhaps that giant yellow ducky from the car wash.
PHOTOS COURTESY NEON MUSEUM/VOX SOLID