As We See It

Cash for culture: How to crowdfund Las Vegas’ glittering history

The Neon Museum launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the restoration of its Desert Rose Motel sign.

While prepping to showcase the most stunning signage from Las Vegas’ visual past, the fledgling Neon Museum found itself in an extraordinary predicament: The myriad implosions and razing of casinos meant that the museum’s careful and strategic steps forward were abruptly interrupted by the need to find money to rescue another sign—efforts that ran into six figures.

If only there’d been crowdfunding back then, the chance for the community to very conveniently chip in, adding to the high-dollar donations the museum was scrambling to get, speeding up the process, maybe even saving the day.

Not only has crowdfunding brought in additional funds for projects ranging from building rescues to some kid’s potato salad ($55,492!), museums traditionally so reliant on patron and corporate donors have also hit a jackpot of sorts. The Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum campaign on Indiegogo raised more than $1.3 million in one month, with 33,253 people helping it surpass its goal. The Smithsonian Institute raised $130,000 for an exhibit on yogic art in 2013 and recently launched a Reboot the Suit Kickstarter to conserve Neil Armstrong’s space suit, drawing $600,000 in 15 days for its $500,000 goal.

So when the Neon Museum launched an Indiegogo campaign two weeks ago for partial restoration of its Desert Rose Motel sign, it fell right in line with the new tradition of having fans contribute directly to their interests in sums large and small.

The museum (established in 1996 and opened to the public in 2012) says it needs $50,000 to resurface and repaint the sign—one of the largest in the museum—a project that will stabilize it and protect it from further harm. The eye-catching, pole-mounted sign stood outside the former motel on Las Vegas Boulevard South until the 1990s. Its bold colors included a once royal blue cabinet and richly red roses topping green stems—a deliciously simple but gorgeous design.

It’s no potato salad, but certainly we can pony up a few bucks to conserve this stunning piece of the Las Vegas narrative.

Tags: Culture
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Kristen Peterson

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