Sunday, July 13, 2014

Photo Essay: The Collection of the Museum of Neon Art, In Storage

While I wait for the Museum of Neon Art to move into its new location in Glendale (after having closed their Downtown LA location in June 2011 before I could ever visit), I've been able to tide myself over by taking one of their neon cruises, and following the construction of the new place in the news (including the recent lighting of the neon diver, mounted on their rooftop).



But all this time, I've known that their collection has been sitting in storage in an industrial warehouse in Pomona, ripe for gawking.



After a couple of tries, I finally got to see it.



It's not much of a boneyard because some of the signs are actually in working condition...



...and were lit up last night during the Pomona Packing Plant's monthly art walk.



Rarely am I able to get so up close and personal with a neon sign of this caliber...



...usually craning my neck and hoisting my camera up high to try to get just the right angle...



...without the pollution of street lights and neighboring backlit plastic signs.





In fact, the MONA warehouse is like a little mini museum...



...with blade signs hung vertically, casting their glow over the room.



Many signs were pulled out and lit for the occasion...



...and displayed together thematically...



...but since this is technically storage, I could only catch a glimpse of some of LA's most famous neon signs, like that of The Brown Derby...



....which was hiding behind stacks of colored glass tubing.



To my delight, I got to meet the "Doc Kilzum" neon sign I helped the museum save, having seen a photo of it posted on Facebook sitting in a warehouse in Frogtown behind a pilates studio, a vestige of an LA River-adjacent exterminator business. "His patients all die."



Though they were not lit themselves, there was enough light left in the day to spot some other kooky characters...



...like a howdy frog...



...and an Indian chief.



Even if you don't consider neon signs art...



...there's a lot of LA metro history in here...



...from across the area, Chinatown to Hollywood.



The open house was a rare chance to see the pieces of the neon dragon sign from the Chinese Theater put together...



...standing up...



...ready for restoration...



...and, hopefully, one day, relighting.



I can't wait for the Museum of Neon Art to reopen for real, but this was a special opportunity to pay a visit to their signs and see some of their new acquisitions (like Doc Kilzum) since closing three years ago.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Neon of LA, and Its One Darkened Dragon
Photo Essay: Relics from the Valley
Photo Essay: Neon Boneyard, Vegas
Photo Essay: Neon Boneyard at Night