After being closed for almost five years, the Museum of Neon Art is back, and bigger and better than ever. Founded in 1981 by artists, the museum has traded a DTLA location for spacious digs in Glendale, where permanent exhibits of historic neon signs share space with rotating exhibitions by contemporary neon artists.
Museum of Neon Art
216 S. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91209
Paid for by the city of Glendale, two new outdoor neon pieces are permanently installed on the exterior of the museum. Located across from Americana at the Brand, the museum’s plaza makes a great place to linger and take in these stellar outdoor pieces.
One of the two pieces on display outdoors is poised to take a dive from the rooftop. That would be the 1948 Virginia Court Motel’s “Neon Diver” sign. Continuing a water them, while the leaky faucet created for Clayton’s Plumbing of Westwood is installed above a pedestrian walkway on the plaza.
Preserving classic neon signs also preserves a part of history, including businesses and locations that are no longer a part of the Los Angeles landscape. MONA’s permanent collection, with pieces that rotate on display year ‘round, includes the Iwata Camera sign, from the 1940s, once housed in Little Tokyo. The Holiday Bowl sign wasn’t hung over the outdoor concert venue, but rather on a 1950s era restaurant and bowling alley in the Crenshaw area. Another historic sign that’s a part of the permanent collection is the iconic Brown Derby sign, whose neon marked the entrance to the celebrity frequented Hollywood restaurant in its heyday.
The gift shop houses a terrific collection of take-home items from books about neon to neon clocks and sculptures. It also contains exhibition space for rotating shows, such as the exhibition of neon clocks that was one of the two opening exhibitions in the new museum.. Permanently installed in the lobby is a large green neon frog clad in coat and top hat, which once greeted customers at a Bakersfield grocery store.
The Museum showcases a variety of exhibitions throughout each year. Running from March 11, 2016 to June 19, 2016 is an exhibit of vintage neon advertising signs from MONA’s collection paired with the international photography of #SIGNGEEKS and 60 photographers whose work depicts vintage neon worldwide. Also on display is the neon art of Brian Coleman and the photography of Roger Steffen, and an exhibition titled “Dancing with Light,” which is The Neon Art of Brian Coleman and the Visionary Photography of Roger Steffans.
MONA has offered evening bus tours aboard a double decker vehicle practically since its inception. Tours continue to classic spots such as Chinatown, with its glowing green pagodas, and the newly revamped Clifton’s Cafeteria, as well as mid-Wilshire neon-topped apartment houses. The tour offers a solid insight into the city’s history as well as a look at beautifully wrought, classic signage.