The Neon Museum is a national treasure, and now it’s even better with the debut of “Brilliant.”
“Brilliant” brings 40 vintage signs back to life through the miracle of projection mapping.
As you view photos and video of the new Neon Museum show, remember, not a single one of the signs actually functions.
There are few pursuits more noble than making neon glow again.
“Brilliant” is the work of artist Craig Winslow, and his digital skills and creativity are very much on display at the Neon Museum.
The signs aren’t just re-animated, they’re elevated. It’s reality, or more accurately history, heightened and amplified.
And speaking of amplification, “Brilliant” features about 20 songs by performers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis and others.
“Luck be a Lady” kicks off the show and immediately activates the tear ducts. Allegedly.
“Brilliant” lasts about 30 minutes, but you’ll wish it would never end.
While photos and video aren’t allowed during the show, the Neon Museum, very thoughtfully, lights up all the signs at the end of “Brilliant” so guests can capture images.
These weren’t part of the show, we just like old Vegas signs.
Here’s a glimpse at “Brilliant,” courtesy of the Neon Museum. And, no, video doesn’t do it justice.
We didn’t use the word “miracle” lightly.
“Brilliant” is a marvel of technology. Craig Winslow used photos and video to create a digital model of each of the 40 signs in the Neon Museum’s north gallery, basically an overflow storage area now put to much better use.
Winslow then created a light show that uses the defunct Las Vegas signs as projection screens. If you look closely, you can see that many of the bulbs on the signs are broken or missing, but during the show, the signs are better than new.
You will be tempted to lick this, but don’t. Seriously, what is wrong with you?
Beyond replicating the pattern of the bulbs, the show also features film footage projected on the signs.
The eight projectors used in “Brilliant,” which is shown in the round, are housed in two 20-foot towers.
Part of the fun of “Brilliant” is trying to identify the signs and the casinos and other businesses whence they came.
Yes, people still occasionally use the word “whence.”
Talk about an odd couple. The ball is from a Denny’s sign, the bottom is from Flamingo.
Beyond the Lady Luck sign, our favorites included letters and Googie stars from the Stardust and the Binion’s Horseshoe, from a time before it was just Binion’s. Also gorgeous was a Golden Nugget sign, as well as one with the word “Famous,” once used by the Pioneer Club.
We’ll take a partial Stardust sign any day.
The signs in “Brilliant” are nothing if not eclectic. There’s also the cowboy from Terrible’s (now Silver Sevens), a Liberace sign, one from Denny’s, another from O’Sheas and even one from the Sweetheart Wedding Chapel.
In 2017, Las Vegas experienced a 26-year low in the number of people getting married here. You go, rationality.
There’s even a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign in the mix. Listen for a chicken during the show.
“Brilliant” shows four times nightly, with tickets at $23. The price is even more reasonable ($15) for Nevada residents, those 65 and older, students and active and retired members of the military. The show is free to children younger than six.
The Neon Museum also offers a combination price ($42, or $32 for all the groups mentioned above) for “Brilliant” and the Neon Boneyard, which we not only recommend but consider a non-negotiable part of any Las Vegas visit.
Nobody was really clamoring for the Terrible’s sign to make a comeback, but just go with it.
Both the Neon Museum Boneyard and “Brilliant” require a reservation, so try being proactive for once in your life and book a ticket ahead of time. Go here.
Yes, it’s technically “Brilliant!” with an exclamation point. Not in this blog, however, we have sensitive hearing.
One of our favorite parts of visiting the Neon Museum isn’t actually inside the museum, it’s the welcome center.
The Neon Museum’s welcome center isn’t just a replica of the former La Concha Motel lobby, it’s literally the La Concha Motel lobby, and it’s gorgeous AF.
The La Concha was designed by Paul Revere Williams, one of the first prominent African-American architects in the country.
The Neon Museum is about three minutes from downtown’s Fremont Street, or about a $6 Uber ride. Do not try to walk there, by the way. Fair warning.
In case we haven’t made it abundantly clear, “Brilliant” more than lives up to its name.
In fact, it’s so mesmerizing, we sort of want the whole world to be projection mapped.
Catch “Brilliant” at the Neon Museum and we guarantee you’ll fall in love with Las Vegas all over again.