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Las Vegas basks in glow of neon
Las Vegas will host a new museum devoted to its neon past. Picture: Peter Poat

After talking, planning and collecting iconic Las Vegas casino, motel and store signs since 1996, the Neon Museum finally has an opening date.

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The two-acre resting place for more than 150 brightly lighted signs, known for years as the Neon Boneyard, is expected to open to the public for tours on October 27, after its keepers finish converting the lobby of the old La Concha motel, in downtown Las Vegas, into a visitor centre and shop.

The La Concha embodies an era before the Strip became dominated by large corporations and video walls. Its distinctive clamshell shape, dating to 1961, stood next to the Riviera hotel-casino. It was moved several miles up Las Vegas Boulevard six years ago.

"Part of the lure is that people are looking for the 'Old Vegas' experience," said William Marion, chairman of the board of trustees of the nonprofit Neon Museum. "This is a unique way to show it to people."

The museum near the Cashman Center, just north of downtown Las Vegas, has been generating revenue for a couple of years by offering $US15 ($A14.63) tours for about 80 to 100 people a day.

The museum board now aims for a first-year operating budget of $US1 million. Tours will be every half hour from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through to Saturday. Tickets will be $US18 for adults and $US12 for seniors, students, locals and veterans. Children six and under will get in free. Souvenirs and rentals for photo shoots or receptions will also be offered.

An aggressive marketing push will follow the opening in the attempt to more than triple visitor counts to about 400 a day during full operation.

The museum had to raise $US2.8 million to bring its plans to life. About $US600,000 was spent to rescue the La Concha from demolition and move it.

About $US500,000 came from private donations and the rest from local, state and federal sources.

Much of the collection was donated by sign companies, Marion said. Many companies leased the signs to the casinos, then kept them in a boneyard for spare parts after they were replaced.

Neon signs in the United States date from the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. But Las Vegas has become almost as known for bright lights as for slot machines. The museum features signs from wedding chapels, used car lots and a looping 40-foot moniker from Las Vegas' first integrated casino, the Moulin Rouge.