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Brilliant! The mustachioed bad hombre of casino signage.
Brilliant! The mustachioed bad hombre of casino signage.

Brilliant! Las Vegas Neon Sign Show

Field review by the editors.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Neon Museum's North Gallery is a firehose of light and sound -- a "sensory experience" titled "Brilliant!" It can feel like a feverish trip to the Strip of old. We tried it out after the night tour through the adjacent Main Boneyard collection.

Digital-mapping synchronizes projected light onto dead bulbs.
Digital-mapping synchronizes projected light onto dead bulbs.

For Brilliant, its designer "projection mapped" a small canyon of 40 vintage Las Vegas signs that had resided in YESCO's storage boneyard. Retired icons of old Vegas have been cleverly reanimated, using technology applied by digital artist Craig Winslow in 2018. The signs would be too expensive to restore with functioning neon, lights, and electricity -- yet in Brilliant they are brought back to life.

The audience is ushered into the darkened space under the stars, and stand or sit around two pillars. The pillars contain strong projection systems precisely aligned with the ghost signs, mimicking the light from neon and bulbs on the rusting, dead surfaces.

For the next 30 minutes, the crowd swivels around, cranes their necks and follows a brisk musical history of Las Vegas on its busted signs. The music is from all the different eras of Las Vegas -- you'll hear Elvis belting out "Viva Las Vegas," and Frank Sinatra crooning "Luck Be a Lady," and a little bit of Elton John's "The Bitch is Back." There's sign of a western cartoon character head, casino cowboy mascot with a mustache -- perfect for the intro of "The Good The Bad and The Ugly," and then Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Flames appear to jump out of the cowboy's face.

Lady Luck magically reanimates in Brilliant!
Lady Luck magically reanimates in Brilliant!

Showman Liberace is important to the story of Las Vegas. In Brilliant!, his vibe is captured with the old rooftop piano from the Liberace museum, and an archival clip of Liberace is projected onto the underside of the upraised piano lid.

One of the iconic signs is a downturned horseshoe, which we'd just learned an hour earlier (on the Boneyard tour) was a well known bad luck charm.

No photos or videos are allowed during the show, but at the end they bring up the lights and projections, frozen on the old signs. You can take pictures.

Brilliant! Las Vegas Neon Sign Show

The Neon Museum

770 Las Vegas Blvd N., Las Vegas, NV
The Neon Museum. Just northeast of the I-15/I-515 interchange. I-515 exits 75 or 75A. Turn north onto Las Vegas Blvd, drive two blocks, turn right onto Wilson Ave. and then left onto Encanto Drive. The Boneyard is one block north, on right.
After dark. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Admission, reserve tickets
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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