Behind the Curtain of the Museum of Neon Art at Their Warehouse

As some of you know, one of my favorite museums in Southern California is the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale. As amazing as the museum is, it’s quite small, and neon signs tend to be quite big, so it’s no surprise the museum has a warehouse where they house signs not currently on display, recent acquisitions that are awaiting restoration, and more. Normally the warehouse is off-limits, but they recently started offering tours of the space, and we had a chance to check it out.

Our tour was conducted by friend, and neon, Eric Lynxwiler. Highlights of the tour included finally being able to see the Brown Derby sign (which hasn’t been on display during any of my visits to MONA), an up-close look at the massive K that used to sit top the Sky Cabin at Knott’s Berry Farm, the Flynn’s arcade neon from Tron: Legacy, and insight into the acquisition and restoration process, including boxes and boxes of vintage tubes. One of my favorite items was a miniature of a vintage billboard for The Sands, which featured extremely thin neon, and was made for the 1982 Francis Ford Coppola film One From the Heart. Not familiar with the film? You can catch the miniature in action here, and see some behind the scenes footage here.

A massive yellow letter K, made up entirely of neon.

A portion of a fading sign, its neon now gone, featuring a crown.

Portion of a large motel sign, which features the painted image of a man in a green outfit and a yellow hat, holding a lantern. At his hip is a small bag which reads "Sandman Sand"

Overall view of the warehouse, near the foreground is a large sign in the shape of a bowler hat, and reads "The Brown Derby" in yellow neon letters. Hanging high above reads "Chris' & Pitt's"

Our tour guide, Eric, stands in front of a sign reading "Western Motel No Vacancy" which is looped in a neon lasso.

Neon reading "Darkroom" in Art Deco letters.

Yellow and red neon reading "Flynn's"

The heads of the "Pep Boys" with neon reading their names, only "Moe" and the "J" of "Joe" visible.

A miniature billboard featuring a hotel building and a cowgirl. Text reads "The Sands Hotel A Place in the Sun Las Vegas, Nevada" a miniature set with real neon for the "The Sands" portion, for the film One From the Heart.

Various blade style neon signs hang one right after the other on the wall. Some read "Hardware" "Park"

The recently unpacked sign from the Silver Moon Motel. On the left is a crescent moon with a face, and "Silver Moon Pool Vacancy" in broken neon.

Three signs rest next to each other. One features lighted animation of a man turning his face, the sign in front of him reads "BEEG THEEK STEAKS" and the one in front of that reads "Market"

Various neon make up an odd jumbled mess as they hang on chicken wire for storage.

Close-up of the "West" letters of the Western Motel sign.

Detail of a neon of a Mexican man sitting on a donkey with a large sombrero and holding a guitar.

Unrestored sign reading "BEEG THEEK" in neon letters.

Higher up overall view of various signs, the most prominent one is a blue windmill which reads "Van de Kamp's Bakery" in blue neon letters.

Pink diamonds from the old Movieland Wax Museum.

Open ends of old cardboard boxes, within them rest various straight neon tubes.

A maroon arch reads "Mission" in white letters.

Various blade style neon signs hang one right after the other on the wall. One reads "Eagle Rock Drugs Fountain Lunch" the next reads "Sincere" and the one after that reads "Laundry" and the following one, "RCA Victor"

A large wooden crate sits with hand marker letters on the side reading "Neon Sign Very Very Fragile Please Handle with Care"

The arrow shaped can sits upside down reading "liquor" in white letters.

A blade style neon sign features a yellow neon high heel shoe at the top, and white neon letters reading "Repair"

Overall view of a portion of the warehouse, various signs sit, some right next to each other making it difficult to make them out. Some that are visible read "Al's" "Market" "Steaks" "Appliances" "Beeg Theek Steaks"

Close-up of a decorative detail neon of art deco curves.

A small green sign reads "Public Library" in yellow neon.

Close-up of the intricate detail of an animated sign of a man sitting backwards on a donkey.

A large sign reading "Al's Liquor" rest on the right side of the frame, in the distance are the yellow and red neon of the "Flynn's" sign.

Old cardboard boxes hold tubes of glass for repairs.

A portion of a large green sign that reads "Florist" in large white letters, and a rose above.

Blue neon letters read "Western Motel" and below in red neon reads "No Vacancy" all of which is lopped in a red neon lasso.

Overall view of a portion of the warehouse. In the right foreground is a large green sign that features a neon pipe and reads "The Tinder Box" in gothic white letters.

Myself, wearing a large straw hat, denim dress with lacing in the front, and white cowboy boots, standing in front of a large bowler shaped sign reading "The Brown Derby" in large yellow neon letters.

While MONA is in Glendale, their warehouse is located in Pomona, and right next door to a brewery, dubbed Neon Bear, drawing inspiration from their neighbor and the iconic Vodies bear signs. Inside the brewery are several signs (including a Vodies bear) on loan from MONA, and our tour even included a pint of beer from them.

Large neon sign reading "Neon Bear"

On the left sits the top portion of a large bear shaped sign, next to it is a neon martini glass with a mushroom cloud coming out of it, and next to it is a pink neon poodle.

Red script neon reads "Da Links Roadhouse" surrounding in smaller letters reads "Blues Beer and Rock 'n' Roll"

Close-up of a container for beer with a large pink sticker of a bear wearing sunglasses and text reading "Neon Bear Brewery"

On the left sits a shield shaped sign reading "Dining & Banquet Room" with a yellow arrow, next to it is a clock ringed in neon, and next to it a large blue neon anchor.

Be sure to follow the Museum of Neon Art on Instagram for the latest information, including when they will be offering warehouse tours next. In the meantime visit the Museum of Neon Art at 216 S Brand Boulevard in Glendale. For more information on the museum, including their unique tours (such as their Neon Cruise which we’ve done), and becoming a member, visit their website. Grab a pint at the Neon Bear Brewery at 560 E. Commercial Street #21 in Pomona.

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