The Neon Museum’s Duck Duck Shed series celebrates Vegas past, present and future

A selection from Debbie Reynolds’ wardrobe, included in the new Neon Museum exhibit at Las Vegas City Hall.
Black Raven / Courtesy

With a variety of events including an exploration of Cirque du Soleil’s O, the premiere of Sphere’s Darren Aronofsky-directed film Postcard from Earth, and an exhibit showcasing entertainer Debbie Reynolds, the Neon Museum’s Duck Duck Shed may have become one of the city’s must-do arts and culture events in only its second year.

And that’s the goal, says the museum’s executive director, Aaron Berger. “Last year was the trial run to see if there is interest and desire for this kind of conversation,” he says. “Las Vegas is looked upon as America’s playground. The whole idea behind Duck Duck Shed is to give the city a little more substance, to show there is intention to the architecture and design, the artwork and all these performances that come together to create a city like no other in the world.”

The authors of the seminal design text Learning From Las Vegas developed the terms “duck,” a building that represents its function through its design, and “shed,” or “decorated shed,” one that requires signage or something else to explain itself. Sphere, which opens this week and has already changed concepts of Las Vegas architecture, is a duck.

“You don’t have to go inside this building to appreciate the impact,” Berger says. “New York-New York is the same thing, where you have people standing on Las Vegas Boulevard shooting photos of this New York skyline. The Hard Rock’s guitar-shaped building coming to the Mirage site will be the newest duck in Las Vegas. What I hope Duck Duck Shed does is allow people to help themselves to understand why they’re in awe of these properties.”

To that end, attendees can not only buy a ticket to see Postcard from Earth inside Sphere, they can also attend a lecture at the Golden Nugget and listen to architecture critic and former chief design officer for the city of Los Angeles Christopher Hawthorne discuss Sphere’s design and impact.

Another highlight of the four-day series actually debuted on September 5 and will continue to be available through October 26. The Persona. The Person: Debbie Reynolds in Las Vegas is a free exhibition curated by the Neon Museum in partnership with Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, featuring a look into the iconic entertainer’s Las Vegas legacy. Some of her gowns and costumes are among the memorabilia, and the exhibit also explores her time performing at the Riviera, Desert Inn and South Point, as well as her ownership of the Debbie Reynolds Hotel in Las Vegas. City Hall’s Grand Gallery is hosting the exhibit.

“It’s a very specific slice of Debbie Reynolds’ life,” Berger says. “We talk about the person and the persona, this stage presence as well as a wife and mother, and the third character in this story is Las Vegas, how Las Vegas let her do both instead of pursuing a movie career she really didn’t want.”

He added that there’s already been interest in touring the exhibit, the first one the museum has curated.

Other Duck Duck Shed happenings include: a technical demonstration and panel discussion focusing on O, which is celebrating 25 years in Las Vegas at Bellagio; a working tour of Downtown Las Vegas with local historian Richard Hooker; a discussion on the use of natural light in casinos with landmark Wynn Las Vegas design team members Roger Thomas, Todd-Avery Lenahan and Gillian Wynn; a mid-century movie night at the Beverly Theater; and a special dining experience at Main St. Provisions celebrating throwback Vegas cuisine. Ticket and schedule info can be found at duckduckshed.com.

DUCK DUCK SHED October 4-7, times & prices & locations vary, duckduckshed.com.

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke is an award-winning writer and columnist who currently occupies the role of managing editor at Las Vegas Weekly ...

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