The Museum of Neon Art feels like a museum that was made for me. Not only does it restore, house, and exhibit some of the finest works of neon signage, it also offers the Neon Cruise, an incredibly unique tour of Los Angeles showcasing some of the city’s most fantastic neon signs.
As sun set, we sat atop one of those double decker tourist buses along with fellow neon enthusiasts gliding through downtown LA and into Hollywood gazing upon ghost signs, still functioning signs, restored signs, and even brand new neon signs, while getting the low down on the history of the city from one of my favorite people, J. Eric Lynxwiler. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he penned the book on Knott’s Berry Farm, along with a book on neon that I’m currently reading.
The Tower Theatre, seen in the two images above, was built 1927, and was the first film theatre to be built wired for the talkies, and Los Angeles’ first air conditioned theatre. I love the figures that top some of the windows, which feature a female figure holding a mirror representing an actress, and a male figure with a camera and megaphone representing a director.
The nearby Commercial Exchange Building is an example of one of the many new neon signs being added to the city, as now businesses are encouraged to feature neon signs. Additionally, the Commercial Exchange Building sign is the tallest neon sign in Los Angeles.
Some of Los Angeles’ neon remains, even though what they once advertised is long gone, replaced by electronics, jewelry, or clothing stores. In some cases, the signs no longer light up at night, falling into decay and becoming victims of vandalism. However, there is the rare case where a sign has been fully restored, such as the old Rialto Theatre, which is now an Urban Outfitters.
Restoration continues on many levels in LA and Hollywood, including the Globe Theatre, which while scaffolded and wrapped, but its recently restored neon sign glowed as a beacon of what is to come.
Neon began to fade out in the 1960s, as backlit plastic signs became easier and cheaper to create, and some signs remain that combine to two, such as the Holiday Lodge Motel.
While most of us think of neon boasting motels, theatres, and restaurants, there are a handful of religious neon signs, and several apartment buildings featuring massive neon.
But when it comes to LA and Hollywood, it is the theatres that had the most spectacular signs.
I honestly can’t recommend the Neon Cruise enough. It combines the art that is neon with the history of such a unique city, while also giving you plenty of recommendations of theatres to visit and restaurants to try. As if my list of places to go wasn’t long enough already!
As for the museum itself, I also highly recommend visiting! We’ve been to the Museum of Neon Art twice, and I blogged about it back in 2016, but it’s a place that is always worth revisiting, as they are constantly changing their exhibits.
Become bewitched by neon within the Museum of Neon Art at 216 S. Brand Boulevard in Glendale, and visit their website for upcoming Neon Cruise dates.